Organising your time in exams

Plan a coherent line of argument

Have the confidence to take time to plan. It is worth it:

  • you will save time in the end
  • you will have a much sharper, more authoritative piece of writing
  • Someone who is a practised planner can usefully give a quarter of the overall time allowed to making a plan.By not then sitting trying to think of the next point, the rest of the time allowance should be sufficient. (See How to plan an essay.)

Divide your time appropriately

In an examination, you will have several essays to write or sections to complete:

  • Give each the appropriate time
  • Even if you can write an amazingly stunning essay on one topic, don't take time off other questions in order to do it
  • You can't get more than maximum marks on any one question, however brilliant your answer
  • You will not do well if you fail to answer all compulsory sections
  • If you are allowed your text in an examination and rely on leafing through it to find ideas in an exam, you will run out of time
  • Don't repeat what you have said earlier: eg. ‘So we see that…' (followed by a summary of everything you have already said). You won't get further marks
  • End with something memorable
  • Above all, never waste time!
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