The planning of the exam paper should consist of the following stages:
1. Scan the whole paper quickly, to get an overview of all the questions.
An old story explains that a teacher got tired of giving this advice to students, so he made up a long and complex set of questions for a final exam. The first instruction was to read the entire test and follow the instructions on the last page. The last page had one instruction: Sign your name and turn in the test. Only one student followed the instructions and passed; the rest failed the test because they tried to answer all the questions as they were reading along.
Not many teachers will go to these extremes, but reading through the entire test does help you plan your approach to the test.
- As you go through the exam, note which sections call for short answers, even single sentences, and which sections call for longer responses to maximise time.
- Pay special attention to the items that give you choices; many students have found themselves out of time when they answer every question instead of reading carefully to see that the test called for one response in section A and one response in section B.
- If the test indicates how many points are attached to each question, plan to answer the heavily weighted questions first so that you have the most time to spend on those responses.
- If you blank out on what you know about a question, plan to tackle that one late in the test session because answering other questions may help you remember the material.
2. Use blue or black ink. Do not use pink, red, green, etc. and never EVER use a pencil to write answers in an exam.
3. Read the instructions carefully with a pen in your hand. Before looking at the actual questions, read the rubric (instructions). Marks are often lost by nervous or over-confident students who overlook instructions so make sure you identify and underline key words so as to know what information you need to look for in the reading/listening ex.
4. Work out the timing. Decide how much time can be allotted to each question. Keep your eyes on the clock. Divide your time according to the number of questions to be answered. Split it proportionately if you have some questions (or parts of questions) which attract more marks than others.
5. Leave yourself 10 minutes at the end of the test period to re-read both the questions and your responses and to correct possible mistakes.