·       Why are exam strategies important?


Exams are important occasions in one’s life. Success in passing an exam means academic achievement, or even a job opportunity. On the other hand, failure means redoing a course or loss of a high-salary position. Exams stress candidates. People get butterflies in their stomach at the news of a coming exam. They feel nervous all through it. Days after the exam they may still dwell upon it.


However, a proactive approach to an exam can turn those stressful times into manageable smaller tasks.




·       What is the exam?


On hearing of an approaching exam, a candidate should find out all about the exam. What is it called? Who is the organiser? When does it take place? And where?


·       What is tested?


What is tested in the exam? What is the purpose of the exam? Is it a midterm, or a final? Is it to certify the candidate? What knowledge points are a must? Any proficiency level to be reached?


·       What is to be reviewed?


Have you got the relevant course book? What sections of the book are covered by the exam?


·       How much time is available before the exam?


Figure out how much time there is before the day the exam takes place. Then budget your time for reviewing. Make your reviewing well spaced all through the period. Do a part a day and stick to the daily share of the review.


·       When does the exam take place and where?


Find out exactly when the exam is held and where. Are you familiar with the place? How will you travel there, by bus, by taxi, by bike, or on foot? How much time does it take to travel from your home to the place? Any potential traffic jams?


·       What tools are required?


Do you need special pens and pencils? Or any other equipment? If it is a listening test, will you need to have your own earphones? And do you need to show your ID card or any other identification to the examiner? If so, get it ready and put everything in a bag before you head off for the exam room.




·       Is it important to be punctual?


Yes, of course. You will have to check out when the exam begins and when it ends. For some exams, a candidate will be refused entry beyond a certain time. And there may be a rule which stipulates that no candidate should be allowed out of the room before a certain time.


·       Have you checked your tools before you leave for the exam?


This step is extremely important. Before you leave your home, double check the things you will need for the exam. Have you forgotten anything?


·       What should you do when you have entered the room?


Find your seat and sit down. Put your tools on the desk. You might get very nervous at this point. Well, take a deep breath and smile a bit to the people around you.


·       What should you do when you get the paper?


The paper is usually handed out to you five or ten minutes before the actual time you are allowed to write. Listen for your examiner’s instructions. It is a good idea to write the info needed for the exam at the very beginning – your name, your exam number, etc. Do not start answering the questions until you have heard the signal from the examiner. Any violation of the rule will incur punishment.


·       Should you answer the questions in the order they are presented in the paper?


No, unless you are told so. Before you start answering the exam, preview all the questions. How many questions are there and how many pages are there? Are there any questions you are sure you know the answer to? It is common sense to answer those questions that you find easy and to come to those thorny ones later on.


·       Does a clean and tidy paper count?


Very much. Most exams in China are written and a clean and tidy paper certainly gives you an edge over the other candidates when the papers are checked. Remember to present your paper nicely. Write carefully and keep your answers organised. Avoid spelling errors and a beautiful hand helps boost the impression your paper leaves on the teacher.


·       What should you do when you find time is not enough?


As time ticks away towards the end of the exam, make sure you know what to give up and what not to. Stop wasting time over the question or questions you haven’t figured out. It is time to check the paper before the bell rings. Check your name and your exam number once again. Or have all keys to the multiple choice questions been transferred on to the answer sheet?


·       What if you find the questions easy and there is more than plenty of time?


Questions that you find easy at first sight can be traps. Read them carefully. Even if you have finished all the questions long before the bell rings, it is still a bad idea to hand in your paper before the designated time. You might regret your hasty action once you are out of the room.


·       What should you do 5 minutes before the bell announces the end of the exam?


Tidy your paper and sort out your things and personal belongings. Wait for the bell to ring off the exam.




·       Have you passed?


If the answer is YES, leave the exam behind and go ahead on with your life. There might be more challenges just around the corner for you.


·       Was your reviewing effective?


Ask yourself if your preparation for the exam was effective. Are there any questions in the exam that have been covered by your reviewing? Or have you missed the target?


·       Have you learned the subject matter well?


For some exams, you have to learn the skills to do something. Learning some points by rote does not help very much in this case. If your exam is of such a category, ask yourself if you have learned the skills or have gained the ability to solve the problems of the subject matter.


·       If you failed, what should you do next?


This is the worst to come out of an exam. But some do fail in exams. A failure is not the end of your world. Reflect upon your past life and single out what has gone wrong. Take action for the make-up exam if there is any. If there are no more chances to redo the exam, do not dwell upon it. Go on with your life and there are more opportunities elsewhere. Anyway, exams are not everything and exams are not your life.


Good luck, my friends.


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