Exam & Essay Advice – Part Two

Yesterday we looked at some exam and essay-writing advice to help you get the grades you deserve. The tips included not putting your work off, making sure to read and understand what is being asked of you, planning your answers, showing some analysis in your answers, and doing some extra research and reading ahead of time. You can check out yesterday’s exam and essay advice here before moving on with today’s tips.

While yesterday focused on preparation and getting started, today will look at some advice for when you actually get down to work:

  • Think For Yourself

It may sound obvious, but examiners don’t want to just see you regurgitate entire lessons. They want you to show that you can think for yourself too. Showing that you have some opinions and thoughts of your own should help boost your marks. Simply repeating your class or lecture material parrot-fashion may have helped with GCSE, but by the time you hit A level and above more will be expected of your answers. Being able to think for yourself is all a part of making the step up to A levels.

  • Get Your Facts Right!

While thinking for yourself, you still need to get your facts right! Make sure you get basic details right, whether that is the name of a character in a book or an important date in history. Getting basic facts wrong makes you look sloppy, and certainly won’t help improve your grades! Of course, the more you study the more you will remember later, so being motivated to study will surely help here too.

  • Over Generalisation

The flip-side to writing lots of facts is not writing enough. It is easy to start generalising in your essay or exam, especially if you are finding the supporting facts hard to come by. Try to stay specific with your answers, and use evidence to support your assertions where possible. Being able to demonstrate a knowledge of the subject in order to support your theories and thoughts is the name of the game here.

  • Don’t Get Caught Up Counting Words!

Forcing yourself to reach a set word limit can put you off your writing. Try to focus on quality rather than quantity and you should find that the words will come to you. Trying to force a sentence or waffling on to reach a word count will rarely add anything of substance to your essay or exam paper. Of course, you want to try and reach the word count if possible, but it is better to edit your essay back than try to push it up.

  • Spelling, Grammar, and Tone

Make sure you have time to read back through your work and check the spelling and grammar. Relying on a spell-checking program on your computer can catch you out too – especially when it comes to words like ‘they’re’ and ‘their,’ for example. If you can (not in an exam obviously!) get someone you trust to check over your essay for you – they may spot something you missed. While your spelling and grammar are important, so is the tone of your work. Using the right ‘voice’ in your work is important too. You can develop this by reading academic writing in your books – try to follow the tone these set. Although, of course, this doesn’t mean you should plagiarise what they are actually saying!

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