Past Exam Papers

What to Look for in Past Exam Papers

Oct 11, 2012
More often than not, when you look at past examination question papers, you feel curious or anxious. For some, the past exam papers might even trigger stronger feelings of panic and anxiety, especially if you had bad experience during past exams. However, it is good to know that previously written papers are one of the best resources that are available to students to help them perform well in exams.
When you look at past exam questions and papers (essays, research papers, term papers, coursework), you need to crosscheck and correlate it to your course of study. Try doing the following, and you are sure to make the most of these past exam papers:
  1. Past exam papers and essays can be of great writing help if you try to categorize and characterize the questions on the basis of its type or the marks. It can be of great help as most teachers and examiners also do the same.
  2. While going through the past exam papers and essays, try to associate different questions with different, yet specific components or parts of your course. This will help you familiarize yourself with question papers, and will aid you to face the actual exam paper efficiently when it actually arrives in front of you.
  3. It is best that you file past exam question papers; it is good to note that though questions are not repeated word to word in past exam papers, more often than not the same questions are asked in a different manner.
  4. It is highly recommended that you practice answering past exam papers, as it will give you an insight into the subject and will also help you with confidence that is required during your actual exams.
  5. When you answer these past exam questions, be sure to get it marked by your tutor or instructor as this process will help you understand your errors and will facilitate you to avoid them during your exams.
  6. The best part of practicing past exam papers is that it helps students learn to manage time efficiently while answering questions and essay exam writing, which is no doubt an indispensable skill if one wants to score well.
  7. The past exam papers help students with a valuable insight on how a question should be comprehended, solved, composed and presented on paper.
  8. As you near the exams, you must answer past exam questions as many times as possible and then assess you learning realistically. It will also help you identify gaps in your learning and knowledge. Needless to mention, it will also help you get acquainted with the format of the question paper, type of questions, and the style in which the questions are phrased.
  9. However, it is important that you understand that the format of the questions might vary from year to year, and hence you should invariably read all the instructions mentioned in the question paper before actually starting to answer the questions. It must be stressed here that students should not assume that the questions or their format will be same as those of the past exam question papers and essays.
  10. It is best to practice answering past exam question papers in 'exam conditions' as it will help you cope up with the pressure and time constraint faced during the actual exam. It is best to sit and answer these papers with a friend, after which both of you can mark each other's answer sheets. Marking your friend's answer sheet will also help you with an alternate way or style to approach the question.
  11. While going through past exam papers and essays, it is quintessential that you compare and contrast the exam papers with your lecture notes as well as module outline. This will help you gain an insight into the complete range and type of questions that might come in the exams. You can do this by studying the entire sections of a chapter, the knowledge of which is required to answer the question appropriately. This will help you with a thorough understanding of the topic in hand, which inadvertently will help you in answering the question if it is posed in the exam paper in a different manner. Needless to mention, preparing in such a way will help you with a special focus as well as incredible organizational skills.
  12. There is no two ways about the fact that past exam papers facilitate deeper learning. These bestow you with the opportunity to apply your learning which you might find difficult if you do not practice.
  13. Very often, examiners consider topics as important and not questions. Analyzing the questions will help you determine on topics that are frequently being asked as questions in exams. This will help you pay special attention on such topics of special significance, and will also help you score better in exams.
Once you are thorough with your course and have also solved the past exam a paper, the next step is to revise whatever you have learned during the tenure of your course. It is important that you do not put things off; you need to have a disciplined approach, and practice past exam papers as many times as possible. This is especially important, as it will help you prepare for exams like none other method. However, it is also equally important that you do not try to identify trends, as it is not a very constructive way of learning.
When you are revising, go through the topics, and then relate them to the manner in which these topics are expressed as questions in past exam papers. You can go one step ahead by using the past exam papers as templates, and coming up with similar questions on associated topics. You can then go ahead and answer these additional questioned to get extra practice on important topics. This practice will not only facilitate your learning and knowledge, but will also help you get an insight into the thinking of the examiners, thus helping you perform well and score better in your exams.
Many schools and colleges help students with past exam papers so that the students can prepare better; however, if your school or college is not one of these institutions, then you can find past exam papers from the innumerable online resources available online.
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