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Exam Myths

Failure would ruin your life

It does, of course, cause difficulties if you fail an exam, but do get things into perspective.

Unless you have understood everything on the course, it isn’t worth taking the exam

There are usually choices to be made in the material you present in an exam answer.  No exam ever asks you to “write everything you know about ...”

Examiners are out to ‘trick’ you

They really aren’t!  We just want you to be able to show what you’ve learned.

Exams suit people who have a good memory

That may be true in some subjects, but there is a lot of English work which really can’t be done by memory alone.  Often it is skills (eg of analysis or argument) which are being tested primarily.  You will need some facts/names or quotes to hand, but memory really isn’t the main thing for English exams.

There are marks available for specific points made

That’s not how it works.  The examiners are looking for evidence of the assessment objectives, not checking against a list of things to be mentioned/discussed.

Stress is a big problem in exam situations

Of course, too much stress can be an issue, but you do need some stress to help you perform.

You should revise till you drop before an exam

You shouldn’t even look at revising on the day of the exam

Neither of these are true.  Get a good night’s sleep, don’t be up until 3 revising, but a quick scan of your summary notes on the day itself can help to reassure you you’ve done all you can, if nothing else.

Planning exam answers is a waste of valuable time

This is the most destructive exam myth.  Even when you don’t have much time per question, planning will help you to use that time better, not waste it.  If you were to run out of time and not finish, the examiner can see where you were going from your plan, and you can often be credited for points you clearly show in your plan.

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