That feeling, an hour or so into an essay paper, that your poor, sore hand is probably crippled forever, and cannot possibly write one single more word without the attention of a doctor with a special qualification in muscle exhaustion.
The blistered lump on your middle finger, meanwhile, is probably beyond all help. The second is the feeling of unmediated horror that will overcome most of us, at one point or another, upon realizing that something has gone very wrong.
Unless you’re a mad adrenaline addict, you probably won’t enjoy exams
Here are few tips to manage time in your upcoming exams…
Read every question carefully
In most exams these days, you’ll have to select to answer one or two from a range of questions. Before you leap in, take a deep breath and read every question carefully. Don’t skim-read, and don’t dismiss an option before thinking about it for at least a few seconds. Examiners have a nasty habit of dressing simple questions up in bewildering language: don’t miss a gem because it’s been confusingly-worded.
Divide your Time Up
Before an exam, when you’re double- and triple-checking how many and what sort of questions you’ve got to do, make a plan of how long you’re going to spend on each thing – and then make sure you stick to it. Students who do well in exams always know how they’re going to approach a paper, and how to portion out their time so that they don’t run out.
How you structure your time will, of course, vary according to the way you work, and the sorts of questions you’ve got to answer. Start by working out what carries the most marks, and how long you’re going to need to get those marks: if you’ve got to do three essays and thirty short answer questions in the space of two hours, you don’t want to spend ages on a difficult short question at the expense of the essays
Start with something you know well
Some people like to launch straight into the hard stuff: to get a question they’ve been dreading out of the way, knocked on the head, leaving lots of time in the end to do everything else at a more leisurely pace. I like to start strong: with a favorite topic, or a question I know I can nail – doing something like that early, I find, makes me feel confident – I can do this.
Plan long answers
As I’m sure you’ve been told a million times before, plan your long answers or essay questions, because this will enable you to write quickly and confidently, and construct better answers. But remember, your plan won’t get marked. I don’t hold with this idea that you should spend half, or even a third of your time planning – use all the time possible on actually writing, to show off how well you can express your thoughts. Frequently, new ideas occur to you as you write, that you’d never have thought of while planning. Don’t spend ages deciding exactly what you’re going to say at the expense of actually having time to say it.
Ask for new scripts before you need them
If you’re a cramming-it-all-in, mad-hurry, writing-at-the-speed-of-light sort of person, it can be incredibly frustrating waiting for the invigilator to shuffle their way over to you with more paper. If you know you’re going to need more paper in a few minutes’ time, stick your hand up while you keep writing; not only will it save you precious minutes, but stop that feeling of panic when you think the invigilator, moving at a snail’s pace and seemingly almost blind, is never going to notice your sweaty, anxiously-waving hand