There’s simply no denying exams are incredibly stressful – they determine your grade, they mark the end of your course and to top it all, they’re timed too. In this environment, it’s really easy to make mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make. Being aware of the pitfalls that are easy to fall into means you’re less likely to fall victim so, read on to recap easy mistakes to make and how to avoid making them.

1. Not answering the question

When the bell goes and the clock starts ticking down, it’s easy to feel a mild panic and dive right into answering the question. Rushing often leads to mistakes and there’s a much greater risk that you’ll mis-read the question and end up not answering it as you should.

Before you even get out your pencil and start writing, take five minutes at the start of the exam to carefully read through the whole paper. Read each question. When you’ve gone through the whole paper, return to question one and read it again before you get to work answering it. Those five minutes might seem like precious time to waste but, they’re being put to good use gaining familiarity with the paper, helping you settle into the exam and ensuring that you answer the question being asked to the best of your ability.

2. Not taking note of how much each question is worth

Not all questions will require the same amount of time spent on them and depending on your paper, some questions might represent a bigger chunk of your mark than others. The amount of space provided and the weighting (if given) is your indication of how much time to spend on that section. If you miss this, you risk providing too much information and running out of time or not enough information to get the mark you deserve.

3. Failure to plan time

You don’t want to be scribbling away mid-sentence when the buzzer goes and the bell is up so, you’ll have to plan your time properly at the start. When you spend those first few minutes reading through the paper, begin to think about how much time you’ll need on each section. If you have two essays to write in a two hour paper, but one is longer than the other, you don’t want to spend the same amount of time on each. You should also factor in a few moments at the end of the exam to go back and check your work. Having a final read through before you submit means you can ensure you have got everything in you wanted to say, review any questions you felt less than confident on and go back to anything that you may have missed.