Thinking like an examiner

Thinking like an examiner:

Part of planning your revision strategy is a review of each section of the course in which YOU try to think like an examiner. ‘If I were writing a question to test people’s understanding of this topic, what would I ask?’ Learning to look at course material with these eyes is a crucial new skill. Your first ideas can come from specimen questions and the syllabus and examiners’ reports, but it is important to realise that you can develop questions yourself. It is similar to the effort to identify themes in the material which you had to do to make your notes in the first place.

eg If the original question was :’ How did Elizabeth II sustain the monarchy in 1997?’

We might change it to:

‘Why did Elizabeth II sustain the monarchy in 1997?’

or ‘Elizabeth II’s attempt to sustain the monarchy in 1997 was fundamentally unsound’ Discuss.

or ‘ Evaluate the success of Elizabeth II in sustaining the monarchy in 1997′

and so on.


Plan answers to exam questions( your own and ones from the old exam papers), and then look up the course material to see what else you might have included; or swap answers with another student and discuss each others’ plans.


Write complete answers to individual questions. You may have a supervisor who is willing to mark such work done under exam conditions, but if not, either work with another student or use your resource materials ( notes, books etc) to mark your own work.


Do a complete mock exam. It can be difficult to set the time aside to do this, and you are highly unlikely to want to do so more than once, so it is important to plan this in when you have completed enough revision to make it worthwhile, but soon enough for you to have revision time left to remedy errors and seek answers to gaps.

It’s not essential for everyone to do a complete mock exam. Like a marathon runner you only have to practise regularly for about 3/4 of the distance, and the adrenaline flow will take you to the finishing post. The exception is those students who regularly word process their assignments, and who never, under normal circumstances, write for three hours continuously. YOU DO need to have at least one full practise , and several practise questions to ensure you are aware of how much you can do in the time, and what strain it is for you, or not.

Comments are closed.