Preparation for your Personal Best – Essay type examinations

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Preparation for your Personal Best – Essay type examinations

  • Student Learning Development
  • Student Counselling Service

These notes cover

  • Examinations as events
  • Answering the question asked
  • Breaking down the examination task
  • Planning your time
  • Rehearsing performance at your personal best.
  • Control of the examination environment
  • Developing strategies and rehearsing techniques for reducing performance anxiety.

Examinations as events

  • Sporting Performance
  • Content – physical skills – basic to advanced.
  • Rules of the game
  • Sports Administration
  • Fitness – health, strength, stamina
  • Flexibility/ability to withstand heavy impacts and shock
  • Event = Match
  • Performance rehearsal
  • Academic Performance
  • Content – knowledge – basic to advanced,
  • rules of your discipline, college administration
  • Fitness – health, new knowledge and workload
  • Tolerance of ambiguity more than one right answer/no right answer
  • Event = exam
  • Performance rehearsal

One of the most common reasons for exam failure is………………

  • One of the most common reasons for exam failure is………………

Demonstrating that you understand the question is the first step in producing an answer.

  • Demonstrating that you understand the question is the first step in producing an answer.
  • How you structure your answer is as important as what you know
  • More is not necessarily better
  • Not Answering the Question!

Build in an introductory paragraph

  • The introduction is about the question – not the answer
  • Restate the question in your own words
  • Find and use the key words
  • Show that you know what the point of the question is by defining the key words/concepts/theories etc (see handout on key verbs).

Study preparation

  • Generate a list of major topics using your notes and past exam papers.
  • Create a chart or summary sheet of the main topics and any relationship between themes.
  • Generate ideas and plan an outline for each question
  • Follow a structure and review your essays (time spent and quality of your answers)
  • General Issues:
  • Cause:
  • Problems of Industrialization
  • Effect:
  • Progressive Response
  • Social
  • Urbanization
  • Change in family
  • Muckraking – Spargo
  • Settlement House
  • Political
  • Growth of Bossism
  • Muckraking – Baker
  • LaFollete reform
  • Economic
  • Trusts
  • Standard Oil

Structure for essay writing

  • Introduction
  • Main body – divided into paragraphs (make point, expand and give evidence)
  • Summary
  • Adapted from: Rosenwasser, David and Jill Stephen. Writing Analytically. 3rd ed. Boston: Heinle/Thompson Learning. Inc, 2003. Seattle University Writing Centre. For more information: Hacker, Diana. A Writers Reference. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.

Budget your time – equal time for equal marks

  • Leave time at beginning (to plan) and end (to check) paper.
  • Question 2
  • 40 minutes
  • Question 3
  • 40 minutes
  • Question 4
  • 40 minutes
  • Question 1
  • 40 minutes

Planning your paper

  • Maximum gains for time are in the early stages of your answer
  • Read all exam questions first
  • Plan your time and answers in advance
  • Answer your best question first.
  • Rehearse producing quality work into time available.

Rehearsal techniques for personal best performance

  • Make part of your study space look like an exam hall.
  • Have a routine and stick to it. Review your progress regularly.
  • Use photos, sketches, etc to bring the exam venue into your study space.
  • Mentally place yourself in the exam when you are rehearsing.

Rehearsal techniques for personal best performance

  • Use imagery – every athlete’s personal best performance is in their mind – so is yours.
  • Visualisation, movement, sound, smell etc.
  • Multi modal imagery – combining different senses (listening, talking, imagining)
  • Think positive thoughts and manage stress through breathing and relaxation techniques.
  • Set goals and review your progress regularly.

What if it all goes wrong on the day?

  • Know your potential examination anxiety
  • Simulate coping with exam anxiety at home
  • Practice breathing and relaxation techniques and other recovery strategies
  • Maintain your physical and mental health.

Don’t leave your exam performance to chance!

  • Practice your starting procedures (e.g. reading over paper and being clear about what you are asked to do.
  • Practice writing full answers using your introductions as a template
  • Practice past exam questions (timed and un timed)
  • Mark your own answers as critically as possibly.

Summary – the keys to your personal best

  • Preparation
  • Organisation
  • Approach your preparation strategically
  • Active revision
  • Stay focused
  • Structure and content
  • Control
  • Manage your emotional and physical responses
  • Think positively

Good luck!

  • Good luck!
  • from Student Learning Development

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