In the exam (physical exam)
Organising yourself and your time in an exam is critical to successfully completing the exam. It is strongly recommended that you follow the steps listed below.
For more on what happens in an exam and what procedure to follow, go to Massey University's examinations section.
- Check the paper number at the top of the page to confirm you have the right exam
- Check the number of pages you should have
- Count the pages you have to confirm that you have everything
- Make sure that you have any additional materials if specified i.e.
- Formula sheets
- Maths tables
- Ask for extra/scrap paper straight away
Example exam papers can be found in the library.
If you have any problems or if your examination paper is incomplete, inform the exam officials as soon as possible.
- Check which questions or sections are compulsory.
- Check for words that indicate options within the exam (e.g. “Either”, “And”, “Choose Two (2)” ). Missing these words can cost you dearly: if you complete both essays where you had the choice of two you have wasted time and marks.
- Check for any specific instructions, e.g. “All working for calculations must be shown”.
Allocate your time for each question based on how much it is worth, the type of questions, and whether the section is compulsory.
- If a section is worth 60 marks out of 100 then it should be allocated 60% of your time.
- If that 60 mark section is divided into 3 questions then each question should be allocated 20% of your time
- Remember too that sometimes multi-choice questions can be done quicker than essay questions.
- Calculate a timeline of when you want to complete questions and stick to it. Remember that if you spend too much time on a difficult question you may not have enough time for easier questions after it.
Download an exam time worksheet (90KB) and follow the steps below for each exam.
- Convert the number of hours into minutes (1 hour = 60 minutes)
- Take off 10 to 20 minutes for planning at the beginning of the exam. Take off 10 minutes for reviewing at the end of the exam.
- Divide the remaining minutes by the total number of marks. This is the total time you have for each mark.
- Work out how much time you have for each question, and when you need to move on to the next one
Example exam time worksheet
In this example, the exam is 3 hours long and is worth 100 marks. There are three sections, worth 20, 30, and 50 marks respectively (100 marks total).
- Convert hours to minutes: 3 hours = 3 x 60 = 180 minutes
- Take off planning time: 180 - 20 = 160 minutes
Take off review time: 160 - 10 = 150 minutes
- Divide minutes by total marks: 150 / 100 = 1.5 minutes per mark
- Work out time for each question:
(=marks x 1.5 min)
|(Planning time)||-||20 min|
|Section A||20||30 min|
|Section B||30||45 min|
|Section C||50||75 min|
|(Review time)||-||10 min|
Things to remember
- Planning your time will help you not to panic.
- Write down your time plan before you start planning.
- Cross each time off as it passes.
- Move onto the next question, even if you haven't finished a section - you can always come back to it.
- If you finish a section early, move on to the next one.
Decide what order you are going to complete your questions in and write it down.
- It is good idea to attempt the questions you feel most confident with first.
- Make sure you complete the compulsory questions.
Write down all the information you can remember for all the questions that you have chosen to complete. Rather than worrying about remembering all the information, you can then focus on writing it well.
- Write down the memory dump on scrap paper; you can use this as a reference within the exam.
- Use mind maps as they are a quick way of getting information down.
- This technique does not work well with multi-choice questions.
You have limited time to complete the exam and impress your marker, so write as much as possible in the time you have available.