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Testing Need help bettering exam technique

  1. Jul 21, 2016 #1
    I'm going into 3rd year at a Scottish Uni (4 years for a BSc) and in the first two years I have been struggling to get good grades for my physics courses. I have been getting C's and D's despite reading all the lecture notes, attending lectures and taking extra notes there, reading a couple of useful textbooks for each module and doing most of the past paper questions. I have a solid grasp on the material being covered in lectures. But I'm not sure if I should do a couple of past papers and hand it in for the lecturer to mark (is this allowed?). So far I've only been writing out the formulas and calculation workings in the exam. How should I improve on this to get more marks? Should I write explanations before and after the calculation? How can I show that I've done extra reading in exams?

    Next year, I'll be studying Quantum Mechanics, Energy and Matter, Electricity and Magnetism. How can I do better in theory-based exams as well?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2016 #2


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    1. What feedback are you getting from your exams currently? How are you losing marks? Do you spend much time going over exam solutions once they are provided? If this isn't clear, it might help to go to your professors during their office hours and go over previous exams. They might be able to identify specific issues such as what to show/not to show in your solutions to problems.

    2. Your goal in an examination is not to show how much extra work you've done. It's to provide the best answer you can to a given problem. The people grading your exam need to follow a marking scheme to be fair to everyone, and so they can't just give extra marks for a time dilation problem because you've included some interesting anecdotes about Einstein. You need to focus on providing a succinct answer that clearly demonstrates the process you used to arrive at it.

    3. When reviewing previous assignment questions as you study, remember that it's very rare that those exact same questions will be asked. However, variations of them are likely to appear. So as you work, given what you know about the field, try to think of different ways each question could be modified to cover that same material, but in a unique format. How could the question be made more challenging? How could the question be streamlined so it's reasonable to ask under a time constraint?

    4. Self-indentify and correct areas of weakness. Do you need to spend more time reviewing the math? Are you interpreting the questions properly? Are you running out of time during exams? Are you having difficulty remembering key concepts?

    5. Are you taking good care of yourself? Are you attending lectures and studying when well-rested? Or are you lethargic from poor eating habits? Are you getting enough exercise?
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