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Essay-based exams: A short guide

A guide to in-person essay-based exams

Before the examination

  • Effective revision is, of course, key. The better you have prepared and practised, the more confident you will feel on the day.
  • Sleep well, in order to be able to focus during your exam.
  • If you need technological support for your exam (eg, in the case of dyslexia or dyspraxia), contact your department in advance.
  • If you are used to typing rather than handwriting, we suggest you exercise your hand by answering questions on paper a few days prior to the exam. Otherwise, you may feel hand pain.
  • Arrive at the exam location at least 15 minutes before its start.
  • If you do not know where the particular building and room are, visit them in advance.
  • Eat something beforehand to give you energy.

What you need to bring with you to the examination room

  • Your student ID
  • Three or more pens and pencils
  • Water to hydrate yourself, and a snack to eat afterwards
  • A watch (in case the clock is too far for you to see the time well enough)

During the examination

  • Follow the instructions given by the examination coordinator
  • Read the exam paper carefully
  • Read the exam question several times. Identify the task word. What are you being asked to do? Make sure you answer the question in full, and not the question you would like to answer.
  • You might find it helpful to sketch out a quick plan to organise your approach to the question
  • Make sure you allow enough time for each question
  • Make sure you leave time to go back through your answers to make any edits
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