Exam Tips



Preparing for exams can be stressful and overwhelming. Don’t let it be. Start preparing in advance and make sure you PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!


Here are some super useful tips.


Exam Prep:

  • Give yourself very opportunity of reaching your potential and achieving the marks that you deserve. Practice, practice, practice.
  • Work through as many past exam papers as you can.
  • Note the mark allocations of quesitons and also the types of questions that are regularly asked.
  • Allocate time to each section and make sure that you stick to this during your exams. You must learn to work fast, so practice this when working through the past papers.
  • Learn all your definitions and terms very well.
  • Write the terms and definitions onto sheets and stick them up around your home, making sure that you read through them at least once a day, until you know them all.
  • Use mind maps, schematics and tabulate comparisons, to learn topics and processes.
  • Be well prepared because this will give you confidence.
  • Get an early night before your exam and start your day with a protein rich breakfast. Do not under any circumstances, miss breakfast. You need your body and mind fully awake and functional.
  • Avoid the temptation of going through your work on the morning of your exam. You have completed 12 years of school and everything that you have learned is ready to be recalled. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to go over it all at the last minute.
  • Remember your stationery (include extra pens), calculator and leave home early enough so that you get to school with time to spare.


Exam Techniques:

  • Use your 10 minute reading time effectively.
  • Read the question first and underline the operative words so that you are clear about what is being asked of you.
  • MARK ALLOCATION: take careful note of the mark allocation. Use this as a guide on how long to spend and how much to write for each answer.
  • Answer the question as if you are explaining to a friend.
  • An examiner will never ask two questions that have the same answer. If you have written the same answer, then one of them is definitely incorrect. Please re-read each of the questions to determine how the answer is different and correct your answers.
  • TABULATE: When you are asked to tabulate, your answer must be in table format. Make sure that you compare the same characteristic per point, for each column. Make sure that you provide a heading for your table and that each column is labelled correctly.
  • COMPARE: When you are asked to compare factors/structures/components, remember that a comparison will include similarities AND Using a table format will assist you to remember to write equally about both of the items/factors - characteristic per characteristic.
  • When you are asked to write your ‘view’ or ‘what do you think….’: you are required to take a stance on ONE viewpoint only. Check the mark allocation, keep to the point and beware of over explaining or laboring on one point.
  • When you are asked to DEBATE a topic, you are required to look at the given issue from BOTH sides and expected to provide both sides of the argument for maximum marks.
  • Always take careful note of the units and direction used in the question/s. Always include the unit or direction in your answer.


ESSAY questions: never include flow diagrams or diagrams in an essay.


MULTI-CHOICE questions:

  • Read the question while covering the answer options.
  • Think about the question and think of the correct answer.
  • Now uncover the answer options and find your answer.
  • If you are given possible answers that are combinations of options, for example:
  • i and ii; b) ii, iii and v; c) iii, iv and v etc, then read each option (i, ii, iii, iv, v) carefully and decide if it is correct or not. If correct = place a √ at the end of the sentence/word. If you think it is not correct = place an X after the sentence/word. Then look at the √ versus the X and select the correct option.
  • Never leave a multiple choice question unanswered. If you do not know the answer, even after trying the elimination process, take a guess.


DIAGRAM questions:

  • Study the diagram and write missing labels in on the diagram itself FIRST.
  • Now read through the questions before you start writing your answers.
  • If you do not know the answer, then write the number on your answer page, look at the mark allocation and leave enough lines to write the answer in later, i.e.: if the mark allocation is two, then leave two lines open. Remember to go back to the question.



  • Use the data sheet/s provided for the subject exam, to assist with answering questions where relevant.  
  • In Physical Science, learn to use your data sheets because they are there to assist you. Make a list of all the physical quantities given and then try to identify the equation that you need to use to answer the question. Sometimes two calculations may be required to answer one question.
  • Learn to understand what a formula says and means, what each symbol represents and the required units. If you understand the physical concepts underlying the formulae, deriving them or remembering them and using them is easy.
  • When doing a calculation, always write down the formula as given on the information sheet. Substitute the values into the formula and then manipulate the equation to answer the question. Remember to include the unit and direction.



  • Make sure that you know the difference between a line graph, bar graph, histogram and pie chart.
  • For bar graphs / histograms ensure the WIDTH OF THE BARS ARE THE SAME.
  • For pie charts use a compass and protractor.
  • Make sure that you practice the skill of graphing and representing data from a table as a graph.
  • Always provide a HEADING that includs both variables for your graph and label the X-axis and Y-axis. Always include the units of measurement like oC, seconds, years, number of organisms etc.
  • The independent variable is graphed on the X-axis (controlled by the researcher e.g.: time, temperature). The dependent variable is graphed on the Y-axis and will indicate the results obtained.
  • Reading information from a graph: make sure that you are able to read information from a graph accurately. Use a ruler and draw lines on the graph through the X-axis and the Y-axis, so that your readings are accurate.


Think before you ink!!!