Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Hello HHDer’s! Welcome to another blog. This week I am going to run you through how to manage your time well on the exam, and what to do when you have 10 minutes left and you flick through the pages and realise that you have 5 pages left of questions to do *insert panic mode*
Break-down of the exam
You will have realised by now that each exam question is allocated a certain number of marks. Now correspond each mark to equal one minute. For example, if a question is worth 4 marks, you should spend roughly 4 minutes on that question, or if it is worth 6 marks then you should spend 6 minutes and so on. If you find that you are spending way too long on one question, then it probably means that you are writing an excessive amount of information that may not be necessary so it is best to wrap up and move on.
How much should I actually write?
Now how much do you actually need to write on each question so that you meet the time limit? Well it really depends on what the question is asking! What really helped me before the exam was compiling a list of command terms, such as ‘Identify’, ‘Describe’ or ‘Explain’, and learning what each of these words mean. This may seem tedious, but trust me, it really helps if you know what the examiner really wants from you. After doing this, you will realise that ‘Identify’ questions don’t consume as much time as ‘Explain’ questions, which means that if you are spending 10 minutes on an ‘Identify’ question, then you seriously need to move on.
Time management towards the end
If there are 15 minutes left until the exam ends and you find that you have 3 whole pages left including an extended response question worth 10 marks...don’t panic!!! This is where you should really plan your time out well to maximise your marks. If you see that you have a 10-mark question left, and a 6-mark question left, my advice would be to attempt the 10-mark question immediately, because in hindsight, it would be more ideal to lose 6 marks than to lose all 10 marks...right? If you are struggling for time, the 10-mark question would allow you to write down whatever information you know about the scenario and graphs you are given, and it would guarantee you some marks. You should have formulated a rough plan of how to answer this question in reading time (so yes reading time is really important so don’t use those 15 minutes thinking about what you are going to eat after the exam), so you should waste no time putting that pen down on paper. Of course this would be the worst case scenario, but how would you approach the exam so you won’t have to stress and leave out an entire 6 marks, or possibly more?
Approaches to the exam
With the extended response (10-mark) question being the most time consuming on the exam, it would be a good idea to do this question first. However, when you do this question first, keep an eye on the clock to ensure that you don’t spend the first half an hour on this one question and neglect the rest of the exam. Once you get this question out of the way, it would be a huge weight off your shoulders, and you can cruise through the rest of the exam paper. When you tackle the rest of the exam paper, it is best to do the questions you know the answer to first, to guarantee yourself some marks and to build your confidence in the process. With the questions you find difficult to understand, or the ones you are struggling with, don’t fret, and just come back to it later. You may find that as you continue grinding your way through the exam, something might enlighten you and you may suddenly think of a response for a previous question you left blank (as weird as that sounds, trust me, it has happened to me before).
When you see that 8-10 mark question staring right into your soul, your stomach might churn, your jaw might drop, your head might spin, and you might go pale...no I’m kidding! It definitely doesn’t have to be like that. Yes, while extended response questions are quite challenging and a lot of people struggle to answer them, there is always a systematic approach to these questions, just like every other HHD question. So what should you really be thinking when you see these questions?
Break it down
The question may appear wordy and it will be accompanied by resources including graphs, scenarios and charts and you will be required to link all this information together to answer the question. Firstly, you shouldn’t be overwhelmed by all this information, and it shouldn’t send your mind into a frenzy. Take a step back and study the material carefully. Ask yourself:
What are these graphs really telling me?
What is the trend in each of these graphs?
According to this graph, which groups receive most support from the NDIS? Which groups don’t?
If you are given a scenario, ask yourself:
What is this scenario saying about the health and wellbeing of the individual?
How does this link to the graph I have been presented with?
Does it suggest that this individual is satisfied with the service they are provided?
There are a million questions you can ask yourself, but once you are able to link all the charts, graphs and diagrams together, answering the question will be a lot easier.
Where should I start?
Now to the actual question. The first thing you should do is to look at the command term. Is it telling me to ‘explain’ something (i.e give an example and then expand) or is it telling me to ‘analyse’ something (i.e evaluate the pros and cons of a program). Looking at the command term will give you an indication of the general direction that you should be heading in when approaching the question. Now look at what the question wants you to do. Is it asking you to analyse how the NDIS improves the health & wellbeing of individuals? If this is so, always remember to link it back to the data and scenarios you have been given. Maybe something in the graph says that 50% of the population using NDIS services state that it is helping them improve their participation in community events or something in the scenario says that a person using NDIS has been able to positively interact with other children. Make these links in your head and jot down some ideas before combining them to form a cohesive answer.
Getting those marks
Whether the question is 8 or 10 marks, it would suggest you writing down either 8 or 10 points about the given topic. For example, if the question asks: Using the information provided, analyse the NDIS’s contribution to optimal health and wellbeing as a resource both individually and nationally, you may be able to break it down like so:
2 marks : What is the NDIS? Who does it cover? Provide a brief explanation of what the NDIS actually is
2marks: Describe how health and wellbeing is used as a resource individually. What are some things you can see in the scenarios or graphs that suggest this?
2marks : Describe how health and wellbeing is used as a resource nationally. What are some things you can see in the scenarios or graphs that suggest this?
2 marks: State the pros and cons of the program according to the data provided. For example, is a certain group of people unsatisfied with the service provided? Is the NDIS providing assistance to a broad demographic of Australians?
By systematically breaking down the question, you are guaranteed to maximise your marks.
So my final tip is, do not panic! Stay calm and think clearly and you are on your way to gaining those 10 marks!!
So I guess the final point I’m trying to make is...DON’T STRESS!! If you have a gameplan going into the exam on how you are going to approach it, and not panic when things get tough, you will be able to think more clearly, even when you have 2 minutes left at the end and you realised you have a few questions left to go. You’ve got this HHDer’s!
Have a question?
In the final weeks before exams Martina 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 Martina might answer it live!