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33 - Tactics during the exam.

A Strategic Approach

Plan out your approach

Tactics keep things in control

Think of the exam like a football match. You are in a competitive situation. There is a time limit divided up into segments. You need to score a certain number of points to pass or to get the mark you are after for the subject.

Good football teams have strategies and tactics that they know well before the match starts. The players go into the match knowing what to do and when.

Tactics are the practical actions we take as part of a strategy.

Successful students go into the exam with a plan of action. This means you can “hit the ground running.” This term can be used for soldiers who jump out of helicopters and can immediately go into action. The last thing you want is for the exam to start and you are not clear on your tactics.Examples of these tactics are:

Spend reading time working out which questions you plan to do, if there is a choice.
Spend the first few minutes writing out your strategy for the exam. This can be a check-list of the things you need to do during the exam.
If there is a choice of questions, write down the number of each that you intend to answer.
Write down the time you intend to spend on each question in minutes. This will depend on the weighting of the marks each question has (see the techniques on “Balance” and “Weighting”).
You may wish to write the actual start and finish time for each question.


The list you write may look like:


Set space on the inside cover as a place to make notes of things you may think of during the exam (“Pop-Ins”). While you are answering one question you may suddenly remember something you should add to another. We suggest writing down this pop-in and then going back later to add this work to the relevant question. Writing it down in a notes section will help stop you forgetting it (The terrible “Pop-out” 😉 ).

If answering a question involves a relatively complex model or framework, I suggest writing out that model first. This helps you then ensure that you write about all the relevant aspects of the model. If you just run straight into writing you can easily forget part of the model that you should write about. This will then lose you marks.



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