There is about one term left until the end of year exams, so now is the time to start doing practice exams!
Practice exams are a great way to test your knowledge and will allow you to see what areas you need to work on before the real exam comes around.
If your teacher hasn’t already given you some practice exams, then now would be the time to start asking them for some. Your school would have purchased many exams in the past and would have a collection of them somewhere.
However, if you don’t have any practice exams from your teachers, then past VCAA exams are the next best thing. You should aim to do all the VCAA exams that are on the VCAA website (from 2008-2015).
The question that most people have is how do I approach a practice exam? Most people just complete a practice exam, mark it and then forget about it, but that is not the way to go.
My approach to practice exams is as follows:
I would sit the practice exam according to the given time allowed. Your end of year Chemistry exam will test both Unit 3 and 4 knowledge, but for now, you should just follow the time set out for a single Unit 3 exam.
I would also for most of the practice exams you do, allocate 15 minutes of reading time as per the guidelines set out in your exam. Most people dismiss the importance of reading time, but it is so important. Being able to sit down for 15 minutes and do nothing, but just read is a skill that also needs to be practised.
For every practice exam that you do try to answer all the questions that are contained within. Even though it is not assessed, it will be good to get into the habit of trying to answer all questions that are put in front of you. In the real exam, you would want to answer all the questions that they give you. Leaving blanks in your exam paper will do you no good because the examiners cannot give you any marks for blanks. ➔ NEVER leave a multiple-choice question unanswered, guess if you have to!
After you complete your practice exam, make sure you take a break before you begin marking. You just sat down for an hour or so to complete an exam, give yourself a break before you move onto marking it.
Marking: Marking your exam is much more than identifying the correct and incorrect answer. When you are marking your practice exams take care to read in the solutions booklet why your answer is incorrect/correct, especially those short answer questions. You want to make sure that your answer is similar to what examiners are looking for.
After you finish marking, I would make a list somewhere of the areas that you need to revise on. A tip that I think works well is that you could use sticky notes to list the areas that you need to revise on, and stick that in front of the exam that you completed. That way you know where that issue came up, and you can go back and have a look at that question again, once you have revised and tried to figure out where you went wrong.
If you still have any issues with the questions you come across in a practice exam, make sure that you ask your teacher/tutor for help. They are an invaluable source of information to use them!
Lastly, just one point about VCAA exams. The examiner’s report that accompanies each VCAA exam is an invaluable exam tool. When you are marking the VCAA exams that you have completed, make sure that you take some time to read what the examiners have had to say about each question in the exam. The examiner’s report is one way for you to get into the minds of the examiners to see what they want in an exam answer. Therefore, you should carefully analyse those reports – especially those questions where most students got incorrect.
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