Week starting 26 October

Exam time management strategies!


Hello everyone, and welcome to another week of the English Connect blog! Hopefully, the previous posts have given you tangible advice on your writing! Today, we will be turning towards exam time management strategies, and some techniques you can turn to in order to get the most of the 3 hours.


Firstly, let’s set the scene for the exam!


Tip 1: Make sure you know your way around the exam booklets! Remember, all of the texts on the English text list are in that booklet so take note of the contents page and locate your texts! Also note what number your text is, as you will have to specify this in a box at the top of your essay in the answer booklet.


Tip 2: If you think you’ll need another exam booklet, plan for this in reading time! Ask your teacher about the standard protocols for this, though generally this is done during reading time by asking a supervisor. The booklets are similar in size and line width to the GAT booklet that you would be quite familiar with. It’s unlikely that you will need another one, but the option is there if you need!


Tip 3: PLAN!!! It is far better to spend 5 minutes before starting each essay jotting out your contention and arguments, rather than pausing mid-writing only for the minutes tick by…


This was my personal model for planning:

1. Highlight key terms in the question and define them

2. Create a contention using the stance/extension model

3. Break down the topic into 3 questions that use the key terms. These become your body paragraphs!


I personally practiced planning a whole slew of essay topics based on any topic I could find online or my teachers would provide me with. This way, I was ready to attack and plan the topic on the day, and could likely borrow from the bank of arguments I had already made!


Tip 4: Remember your dictionary! You have access to this during reading and writing time, and it can be extremely useful for jogging your memory on the meanings and associations a word holds, especially one of the key terms that appears in the essay topic. Don’t be afraid to look things up!


Tip 5: Think about how much time you will plan to spend on each section of the exam. Evaluate how you performed in a practice exam and make adjustments.


Personally, my time break down looked like this:


Reading time: Section A – 2 mins Section B – 2 mins Section C – 11 mins

55 mins: Section C (capitalise on your reading time and launch straight into Section C after you have spent a long time reading it!)

55 mins: Section B/A ( I personally did B first because it is the more difficult essay)

55 mins: Section B/A

Remainder of the time (15 mins) is devoted to planning.


Tip 6: Put your quotes everywhere. Put up posters on our bedroom wall, in front of your desk, even on the toilet door and the fridge! Optimise your ‘subconscious’ revision time by immersing yourself in it while you go about your everyday activities – it will save you precious time that you might need for other subjects and other practice exams!


Tip 7: Try not to passively read study guides and practice essays. After reading any bit of supplementary English material, even if it was my teachers own feedback, I would write out at least one sentence that puts that skill/idea into writing. This was a small, cumulative building block that I could easily build upon without feeling like there was too much work. However, it forced me to be active in my revision in a small but meaningful way!


As always, I hope these tips are useful to you and happy writing!


Have a question?


In the final weeks before exams Mirella will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Mirella might answer it live!

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