Academic Writing Complete Guide

Purpose and Audience of this Guide
Why read academic articles?
Essay Writing
Report Writing
Oral Presentations
Finding Sources
Good Academic Scholarship
Understanding Feedback
Exam preparation and Techniques


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Question and answer papers

The internet is laden with too many revision tips when it comes to the question and answer papers. However, there is not much question and papers to use in order to prepare for the exam. After you have revised and adequately prepared for the papers, you do not want to falter at the final hurdle. The exam environment is different across disciplines. For instance, computing student will sit informant of a computer ready to code. A practical element must apply when it comes to science final grade of the student. This is regardless of whether the student is studying English, economics, psychology or history.

If you want to crush a test, the best thing is to study the subject comprehensively, rest adequately the night before, and maintain calmness as possible while you are taking the exam. However, no matter how well you prepare for the exam, there will always be questions that are difficult than others. If you are not entirely sure of your answer, there are several strategies applicable to improve your chances of giving the right answer.

Short answer question

  • Circle the keywords in the question
    You will be able to focus on the main idea that your examiner wants you to remember. Identify any vocabulary words you learned recently in class, and study the items you recognize. Some teachers can decide to use test sheets for their classes. You do not necessarily have to circle these words, underlining them would suffice.
  • Deal with easy questions first
    Go through the test and answer all the questions of which you are the sire. This will boost your confidence and your brain will be subconsciously working on the answers to the questions that you skipped. Once you are done with the easy parts, go back and start tackling the hard questions. Another reason for dealing with the easy questions first is to get them out of the way. If you run out of time, at least you will have answered a good number of questions.
  • Give more than one answer if you are not sure
    If you have two or more ideas and you cannot decide which is more likely to be correct, write them both. You might get partial credit if one of the answers is correct. This will not happen always but it is something worth trying.
  • The answer form your examiner’s perspective
    If you are unable to decide between two possible responses to a question, think of it from the perspective of the examiner. Look at the sort of things that he has emphasized on and the most likely answer he can provide. Imagine that you are writing the test and think of the answers that you would term correct and incorrect.
  • Use the margins
    If you find it difficult to figure out the answers and you have several prospective ones, use the margins or the back of your exam paper to work them out. Write down anything that comes to your mind and sees if it refreshes your memory. There are teachers whom will allow you to bring paper sheets to the exam room.
  • Rephrase the question
    You can summarize the question in your own words to see if you can make the exminer4’[s point more clear to you. When you are rephrasing the question, ensure that you do not change the meaning.
  • Prepare and study with flashcards
    If you are sure that you will be receiving short answer tests you can prepare by writing any key ideas or terms that you can find in the textbook or reading materials. The key points that the teacher makes during a lecture, especially the repetitive ones can come in handy. You can write the keyword in front of the flashcard and a brief description at the back.

    Alternatively, you can write the keywords on the left sides of the flashcard and the definitions on the right side. Fold the papers so that you are able to see the definitions and then try to remember the terms.
  • Write as much as you can remember on the back of the test paper
    You have to briefly read the test questions. If you are allowed to write at the back of the sheet or on a cover sheet, list any information that you think will be helpful to you during the test. You can list any of the terms in your flashcards that often confused you. This will help you to move forward even if they appear on the test.

If you have memorized any list or collection of terms, using reminders write them down quickly. If you are not supposed to bring in the periodic table in a chemistry exam, memorize it and sketch it before you take the test. It will be a good referral during the test. However, you have to be sure that your examiner is okay with this method and that you did not bring the paper with you to class. Otherwise, that might look like you are cheating.

Multiple-choice questions

  • Formulate your answers before reading the options
    You can try to answer the questions in your own words if possible. Then, try to find the answer in the options provided and you are likely to find a match. If you first focus on figuring out what the answer is before looking at the options, you will be able to think first of where you head the answer, either in a text or a lecture. This process enhances your concentration and exercises your memory.
  • Answer the questions in the order in which they appear, but skip any of them that you get stuck on
    The answers in an exam in most cases follow the same order in which you learned them in class or in the way it is presented in the textbook. If you answer them in that order, you are likely to get a clue as regards the right answer. Do not waste a lot of time on a question that is difficult because you can get frustrated. This may affect your performance in the rest of the test. If you are really stuck on a question, you can make it so that you can revisit it once you finish the other questions and if you have time to do that. If you do not intend to guess, skip the question and mark it so that you can revisit it later once you are done with the test and if time will allow.
  • Find out if you will be penalized for guessing
    Most tests do not penalize for guessing. It is better to risk getting it right and get it wrong than to leave a blank space and definitely get it wrong. However, there are certain tests that penalize students for guessing. If you are not sure about this, it is better to consult with your examiner before you begin the test.
  • Do not always stick to your first choice
    There are those who believe that the first guess in a test is always right and as such, you should not change your answer. However, this is not the case and you are even more likely to get the question right if you change your answer. So do not get stressed over changing an answer simply because it was your first choice. Be flexible with your answers.
  • Ascertain that your answer is complete
    When you have an answer that you are not sure is correct, ask yourself if it answers the question correctly and completely. If the answer is partly correct or applies to only a part of the question, it is not your best choice. It the answer is true to only certain conditions, and then it is not the right response.

    If you find an answer that is almost complete, see if there is another option that is similar to that answer but is complete. This may be the correct choice.
  • Think twice if you suspect a trick question
    These questions are really used by teachers on their tests. If you think it is a trick question, go through it again and very carefully. You might have misunderstood the point of the question, or you might be complicating the question than it really is. If you notice a possible answer that solves the question that might be the correct choice.
  • Look at every answer as being correct
    If you have two answers, visualize the first one as the right choice. Then try the second option and imagine in your mind that this is the right choice. You will probably get the feeling that one of the answers is writing. You then choose the other one. Sometimes you might have a strong feeling about something without remembering the exact details about it. This applies to answers too.
  • Look for exact opposites
    If you have two choices that are the exact opposite, one of them is likely the right answer.
  • Reject absolutes
    If an answer insists on an absolute, it is wrong. Answers that include a word like always, never, ever, all and must be avoided.

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