1.    Put your pen DOWN!  Read the instructions.  Don't answer more or less questions or parts of questions than you have to.

2.    Take time to read and digest the questions.   Answer the question asked and not one that you would rather answer.  Questions are doors into a problem area; the examiner is interested in what  you can see from that doorway. So ask yourself what each question is really about.

3.    Similarly, when you are asked to write short notes on concepts, persons or other entities, explain their significance in the context of the course.

4.    Plan your exam.  Take time to decide which questions you will answer.  Don't automatically go for ones that seem easier; a thoughtful answer to a challenging question will get more marks than bored regurgitation of data.

5.   Answer the questions you know best first, but after you have given thought to the others.  You know more than you can at first remember; let your subconscious work on less familiar topics while you are dealing with others.

6.   Remember that preparing for exams is 90% of the game.  Rote memory is insignificant compared with understanding the subject in terms of structures of thought to which relevant data will naturally adhere.  Review with friends.  Argument clarifies blurred areas.  Last minute cramming will do you little good. Relax the night before the exam.


7.   Anything that comes between your thoughts and examiner's understanding will lose you marks.  SO:-  take trouble over presentation.  Use ink not pencil.  Double-space.  Start each question on a new right hand page.  Leave left hand pages blank for later inserts and revisions. (The paper will be recycled!)

8.   Adjust time and effort spent on questions to the points they are worth.  Don't write essays that are shorter than short notes, or vice-versa.

9.   Don't woffle, and don't be vague.  Always relate general arguments to specific data: names, places, periods, sites, etc.  While you don't have time to explain all these, the examiner must be convinced that you could.  Always give pertinent examples.

10.  Always have a stab at ALL the questions you are supposed to answer. Even a couple of lines will earn you something.  The first 4 marks out of 10 are a lot easier to get than the last 4.

11.  If you are asked to produce answers in note or point form, do so.  If you are stuck for time, do it anyway.

12.  Plan to finish a few minutes before the exam is over, so that you can read through your paper calmly and make neat clarifications, corrections [Neolithic for "Neanderthal" Revolution] and additions. This can earn you a lot of points.

Now take it away....