Answering exam questions - dos and don'ts

You’ve studied, you’ve revised, but now you’re sat wondering how on earth you’re meant to go about answering the questions in front of you. We realise that getting all of that knowledge out of your head and down onto paper is more than tricky. So here's some key dos and don'ts to remember when it comes to the exam.

Answering exam questions

What you should be doing...

Prep prep prep!

Going in prepared will mean you’re less stressed and more focused.

Make sure you walk into the exam knowing what you’re going to be faced with. How many questions are there? What format are the questions? How many marks are at stake? How are the questions worded? How long should my answers be? Ask your teachers, practice with old exam papers and get in the know!

Read the question

Make sure you understand the question. Identify keywords and what it’s asking you to do – discuss? Evaluate? Compare? Outline?

Stick to the topic and answer the question that’s been set. If you’re asked specifically about one thing don’t go off naming everything else related to that just because you’ve revised it all. Always try to relate everything back to the question you need to answer.


Always remember to P.E.E: Point. Evidence. Explain. A nice easy structure that’s easy to remember and carry out. Make your point, back it up with some evidence and explain it. Structure can make or break a good exam answer so make sure you plan your answer before you start writing.

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What you shouldn't be doing...


Exams may feel short but they're actually structured to give you enough time to plan your answers, so don't rush and jump straight into the first question without a plan. Take the time to understand the question and structure your answer. If you've got a good plan, you'll find that writing your answer actually doesn't take much time at all.


Make sure you avoid waffle. Repeating yourself will only waste precious exam time, so make sure your points are clear, concise and get to the point.


Once your exam is over, it can feel like you've done everything wrong and gotten a rubbish grade but actually, there's no way to know, so worrying isn't worth your time. Try not to compare yourself with classmates or think about what you could have done. You tried your best and more importantly, the exam is over and you can relax!

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