Exam Writing Tips: How to Answer Exam Questions

This is what it all comes down to; you’re sitting in the exam hall, waiting to get your hands on that anticipated piece of paper. You’ve jammed a ton of information into your brain and your fingernails are non-existent – it’s time to get down to business!

Yes the exam environment may be different across disciplines. Computing students will sit some tests in front of a computer with their fingers poised to code. A practical element will contribute to science student’s final grade. It doesn’t matter if you’re studying English, Economics, Psychology or History, every exam can be approached in much the same way with these exam writing tips.

We’re here to give you some help answering and writing exam questions that will show your knowledge to the person who reads your paper.

How to Answer Exam Questions

Exam Writing Tips

Pay attention! These quick tips should be common sense but many students who are under exam stress fail to see their mistakes. We’re going to help you avoid a major exam disaster by pointing you in the right direction.

Here’s our top exam writing tips to help you understand how to answer exam questions:

1. Practice Past Papers

There really is no better way to get exam ready than by attempting past papers. Most exam bodies should have past papers available online but your teacher will get you started on these in class.

This process isn’t just about preparing an answer for a specific question, it’s about understanding how you approach a question in an exam, how to structure your answer, the timings you should assign and what information will get marks.

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2. Read All Questions Carefully

The stress of the situation can cause you to misread a question, plan your answer out, start writing your response and then realise you made a mistake and wasted vital time. Even though you generally won’t be writing answers to every question on the paper, reading all questions thoroughly will ensure you make the right choices and can highlight how much you know about the topic.

Don’t forget to attempt all questions that you have selected. However, be careful of MCQ questions with negative marking. If you’re not sure of the answer you could cost yourself some valuable marks.

3. Manage Your Time

This is where you need to be strict on yourself. Once you have assigned a time limit for each question, you MUST move on once you hit it or you won’t be able to give the next question your full attention.

Remember to leave yourself some time at the end to go back over your answers and add in little notes or pieces of information about the topic. You never know, this could help bump you up a grade!

4. Structure Your Answer

Exam Writing TipsDon’t just jump into writing your answer. Take the first few minutes to plan the structure of your essay which will save you time when you are delving into meaty parts. Always stay on topic; if you’re discussing the role of women in society as portrayed by the author in Of Mice and Men, don’t digress and start outlining other themes in the book for example.

Most essays should have an introduction, three main points and a conclusion. A lot of students see a conclusion as a final sentence to finish the piece off. A strong conclusion give an A grade student the chance to shine by bringing everything together and fortifying their opinion.

5. Explore Both Sides of an Argument

Building your argument in the main body of your exam answer will give your overall opinion credibility. English language questions, for example, encourage you to explore both sides of an argument and then conclude with a critical analysis of your answer.

Many questions you approach will look as though they seek a straightforward answer but in reality they want you to fully outline a structured essay. Don’t fall into the trap of providing a one-sided view, get your hands dirty and open your mind to other possibilities.

6. Review Your Answers Thoroughly

Smart students can still make the mistake of handing their answer book in without checking through what they have written. Proofread your answers as much as you can to correct any spelling mistakes and add any extra comments you think are worth mentioning.

You will be surprised what you can spot in those last few minutes. This is your last chance to throw in that quotation, list other relevant points or even draw a quick diagram. Now is not the time to drop your game, show the examiner what you’re made of!


Remember, the exams are not designed to trick you. Don’t panic on the day of your exam or this brain freeze could mean that you get a lower grade that you truly deserve. Convince yourself that you know how to answer exam questions and your almost there.

Are there any exam tips that helped you? Leave a comment below!


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