Exam markers spend many hours behind a desk marking student’s examination papers, in what proves to be an important but also tedious task. It is therefore essential that students find ways to stand out to their exam markers, with some critical elements in their writing that can distinguish them between a band 5 and a band 6. The following tips will help students in continually improving their exam writing skills leading up to their trial and HSC exams.
Know the Syllabus
The syllabus is a student’s most important point of reference when studying. It is essential that students commit the contents of their syllabus to memory, in order to know exactly which specific syllabus point is relevant to each question. This is critical for subjects in which some syllabus points are highly similar, requiring students to be able to distinguish between them, as answering questions with content related to the wrong syllabus point can cost them vital marks. To assist with this, study notes should be made directly under the syllabus points. Writing out the syllabus points during study sessions is also effective, helping students memorise the guide.
Terminology refers to using the correct language relevant to each subject, with some subjects such as Biology, PDHPE and Business studies enforcing a high level of importance on the correct use of terminology within student’s answers. Using the correct terminology also requires students to be familiar with the definitions of the terms they are using. Often students may be required to define the terms they use within their answers, or those stated within the question. To assist with this, students can create a glossary of the key terms they are required to know, defining these terms open book initially, then attempting to do so closed book after some practice.
Range of Examples
Students should use a range of relevant and contextual examples within their writing in order to back up the points they are making. This illustrates a deeper level of understanding, alongside a student’s ability to apply their knowledge of a topic to the real world. Completing extra readings from the textbook or online is an effective way for students to broaden their knowledge and find interesting examples to impress their markers.
Students should aim to write in a way that is well-structured, cohesive and flows effectively, to ensure markers can easily understand and interpret the answers that have been produced. Typically, questions that are 4 marks or higher should include an opening and closing sentence within the answer. The PEEL structure (Point, Expand, Example, Link) is an example of a great structure for students to follow to ensure their writing is clear and concise. Finally, using the amount of marks allocated to a question as a guide to the level of depth students are expected to answer questions in, is an effective way of ensuring students maximise their marks without ‘waffling’ too much.
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