Prepare | Revise | Achieve: maximise your potential during the examination period

Written with the assistance of our IB Prepared series authors

Now that you’re making progress with your revision, it’s good to know how to maximise your potential during the assessment period. Our IB Prepared series authors have put together some tips for examination paper assessments.

Before Exams

Before going into the exam, make sure you know what to expect. Carina Gambluch, author of IB Prepared Spanish B, suggests that you ensure you know “exactly what the exam format is and what you are required to do.” This means that you can “make a plan of how long you are going to spend on each part” and can use your time effectively during the exam. Garrett Nagle, author of IB Prepared Geography and Environmental Systems & Societies, continues that you should “make sure you’re not spending too much time on short answer questions” – remember that they’re worth less marks! Paul Belcher, author of IB Prepared Mathematics Analysis and Approaches, agrees. He thinks you should work on the bases of “one mark per minute” to ensure you’re pacing yourself.

Brent Whitted, author of IB Prepared English A: Literature, adds to this – “Establishing a confident mindset plays a vital role in your success.” He advises you spend an hour or so before your exam to take stock of what you’ve achieved by this point,” focusing on what you know and how you can show this in the exam. Brian Chanen, author of IB Prepared English A: Language and Literature, continues “by reminding yourself what you really engaged with, you will feel confident going into the exam”.

During exams

When you’re in the exam, take the time to read the questions carefully. Andrew Davis, author of IB Prepared Environmental Systems & Societies, notes that there is a “tendency to focus on the content in a question” when you should be looking at what a question is asking you to do. If you do not address what the question is asking you to do, then you will lose marks. If taking a written exam, you can use a highlighter to focus on the key words in the question. Andrew Davis goes on to suggest that you “look carefully at the number of marks available.” A common mistake students make is to spend too long on questions worth less marks.

During long answer questions, Garrett Nagle states that you should refer back to the question in each paragraph to remain focused and ensure you’re answering the question. Ant Gillet, author of IB Prepared Geography, also suggests that you consider different perspectives when completing extended response questions. He says, “consider different course content since evaluation will be required if you wish to reach the highest mark bands.” Sheta Saha, author of IB Prepared History, reminds you that it is a good idea to question the perspectives you include in your answers. “This additional information provides a counterpoint to the question asked and displays a mastery over the content,” which can help you achieve higher marks.

If you want to make sure you structure your long answers well, Andrew Davis suggests writing a plan. This will help you cover all the points you want to make. He notes that long answers and essays should be “subdivided into sections, not written as one long paragraph” as this makes them easier to read and mark.

We wish you all the success in your exams, and hope you have found this series of blog posts useful!

IB Prepared

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