The Secret Weapon of Exam Toppers: 10 Tips You Won’t Find in Textbooks

Say goodbye to exam anxiety, proven strategies for writing answers with confidence

With board exams around the corner, students are putting in their maximum efforts to study, revise and score high marks. Writing effective answers in exams can be challenging, especially since the papers are evaluated by examiners who aren’t aware of the calibre of a particular student, unlike the teachers in their respective schools. With the right approach and proper preparation, students can improve their chances of scoring high marks. Here are a few methods to help students write impactful answers and get the maximum results for their hard work.

1. Understanding the Question

The first step towards crafting an outstanding answer is to thoroughly understand the question. Read the question multiple times to grasp its essence and identify the key components. Pay attention to any specific instructions or keywords provided in the question. If the question has different sections, each section has to be read and understood properly. This will enable the student to focus on the essential aspects and tailor the response accordingly.

2. Organising Thoughts

Once the question is properly read, it is crucial to organise the thoughts regarding it. A rough outline of the answer must be created in the mind, highlighting the main points that need to be addressed. Structuring the response appropriately will make it easier for the examiner to follow the student’s ideas and knowledge with clarity. 

3. Optimum Time Management 

Divide all the questions into 3 categories based on your level of confidence.

Category 1 – Very confident

Category 2 – Somewhat confident

Category 3 – Not confident

Attempt the Category 1 questions first. This will save you time for trickier questions. Then move on to Category 2 and finally to Category 3. This will ensure optimal time management and that sufficient time has been allotted to questions according to difficulty level. Care has to be taken to not spend too much time on any single question.

4. Attempting All Questions

Since there is no negative marking, try attempting all the questions. Always mention the formula and all relevant steps while answering any numerical-based question. Even if the final answer value is incorrect, when other calculation points or formulas are correct, the student will score some marks for writing these. 

5. Attempting Questions In the Right Order

Remember that a student does not have to attempt questions in any particular sequence. One can attempt questions in any preferred order. Ensuring that the section and question number are written clearly before writing the answer is very important. Another crucial factor is to not forget to write the question number against each answer properly even in charts, graphs and diagrams in a visible manner, if these are attached as separate sheets. 

6. Answering With Precision

Answering precisely and to the point is an effective and easy way of scoring good marks. Unnecessary fluff and filler content that might dilute the significance of the answer should be omitted. The focus should be on addressing the question’s core aspects while maintaining clarity and coherence.

7. Supporting the Answer with Evidence

Back up the points with relevant evidence, examples, and data. Providing concrete evidence strengthens the answers and showcases the student’s in-depth understanding of the subject. Write answers in the exam using facts and relevant data, or use real-life examples, case studies, or statistics to reinforce the points to make the answer persuasive.

8. Writing Complete Answers

The student must ensure that the complete answer for one particular question is written together. As much as possible try to avoid writing part of an answer on a particular page and the rest somewhere else without continuity which will create confusion and diminish the impression of the student in the eyes of the examiner. There is a high chance of the second part going unnoticed during evaluation which might result in fewer marks.

9. Elaborating When the Question Demands 

While being precise is essential, it is also crucial to balance conciseness and elaboration. Avoid overly brief responses that lack substance as well as excessively lengthy answers that may take away the examiner’s interest. Aim for a well-articulated response that covers all the essential points concisely. Try to maintain the word limit, by practising how many points should be written for 2 marks, 3 marks, 4 marks, and 5 marks questions.

10. Underlining Important Words

Underline keywords in the answer which is an effective strategy to draw the attention of the examiner towards the right points and save the time of the examiner to allot marks, but make sure not to overdo them as it may reduce the clarity of your answer.

11. Using Visual Aids

Incorporate visual aids such as diagrams, charts, maps and graphs wherever relevant. Visual representations can help simplify complex concepts and make the answer more engaging. However, add only those that will add value to the answers rather than those that will be mere decorations.

12. Language Clarity and Grammar

Effective communication is the cornerstone of crafting an excellent answer. Ensure that the language is simple, clear, crisp and grammatically correct. Avoid using complex terms or sentence structures that might confuse the examiner. A well-written response demonstrates the student’s command over the language and enhances the overall impact of the answer.

13. Neat presentation 

Try to maintain neat and legible handwriting. When it becomes necessary to cut a word or an answer, just draw a line with a pen over that text or word. Avoid scribbling or scratching as it will make the answer sheet look messy and unclean. Don’t overwrite or allow ink drops to fall on the paper. 

14. Cross-checking the Answer Sheet

Before handing over the answer sheet to the invigilator, make sure to cross-check it once more. Verify every entry in the sheet. Check if any questions are left unanswered and also re-check the solutions that contain calculations. Reconfirming that no points have been left out and no errors have taken place while writing the final answers after calculations would be good.

15. Subject-wise Extra Tips 

• Mathematics: Students often mention all the steps in their calculations but do not present them well. This leads to the examiner not understanding the sequence of the steps or they miss out on some steps while checking the paper. This may lead to loss of marks unnecessarily. Use the last page for calculations and mark it as ‘Rough Work’ on top of the page.

• Graphs:  While attempting graph questions, make sure to write all the details in the graph as needed and write the question number on top of the graph paper. Write the scale and mention the x and y axes properly.

• Statistics: Draw neat tables using a scale and pencil while attempting questions from statistics.

• Science: While attempting the science exam, write the answers pointwise, and note the formulae and calculations clearly for numerical problems. Pay special attention to proportions in diagrams and label them clearly to achieve maximum marks. Use bullet points when required to highlight steps or points.

• Languages: For language exams, structure the answers for analytical questions, value-based questions, and letter-writing into 3 paragraphs – Introduction, body and conclusion.

• Units: Write the units for each of the answers and steps. Do not change the units if not asked to do so in the question paper.

Dr Anjana Varma

is Chairperson CSA, Director TGL, Senior Director FWO and Editor- The International Journal

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