School of Computer Science
These notes might help you to improve your performance in examinations.
Remember that the examiners, generally, want their students to do well in
the examinations: but you have to give them a good excuse to give
you the marks.
Most of these points are blindingly obvious, but virtually all students will
throw some marks away by overlooking some of these.
- Make sure that you know and understand the contents of the course.
- Look at previous examination papers for this course.
- Do all the exercises and answer the questions on past papers.
- Make sure that you aren't too tired (or whatever ...) when you take the
In the examination
- Read the exam. paper:
- Read the rubrick: How many questions should you answer? How
long do you have? Are there any special requirements (for instance,
putting each answer in a separate book)
- Read the questions: What are they asking?
- Answer the questions:
- Make sure that you really answer the question
- Don't answer a related question just because you know the answer to
that question. You'll be given credit for answering the
question asked: I doubt that rambling on about something related
but different will do anything other than irritate the examiner.
- Answer the question fully. Make your answer complete and
- Remember that the examiner may be marking a large number of papers and
may mark each question or part of a question separately. Don't
assume that because you said something in answer to another question,
or even another part of this question,
that the examiner will remember.
- What is being asked for? For instance if the question says:
- "Give 3 ..." Then make sure you give 3 - and that they are different!
- " ..... using examples ..." Then use examples!
- "Describe and compare ...." Then both describe and compare
- Look at your answers from the examiners point of view:
- Write legibly,
- Use the layout to make your answer clear,
- Make sure that each point is clear - use notes or bullet points or
perhaps underline ....
- For technical content:
- So if you are writing code then follow a standard layout convention
- .... and this applies to SQL etc. just as much as Java.
- .... so don't write a complex algorithm or query without appropriate line breaks, indentation etc.
- This helps YOU as much as the examiner. If you write something complex without any line breaks or formating then YOU will not be able to see the mistakes
- Similarly, if you use equations then lay them out appropriately.
- If a particular convention or notation has been used in a module then use that in your answer. If you use something else then how is the examiner to tell what you are doing or make sense of your answer?
- Don't give the marker any opportunity to overlook parts of your
answer: Try to stick to the order of the question so that sub parts
are clearly identified and where expected. If you do need to add
things out of place then make sure that they cannot be overlooked.
Always start new questions on new pages and use separate books if
that is what you are supposed to do.
- Use information about the number of marks available to guide your
interpretation. If 3% of the marks are allocated then a very different
answer is required than if 33% is allocated.
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24th April 2012