5 Steps to Effective Exam Technique

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Here are my suggested 5 steps to effective exam technique:

  1. Reading and understanding the question.
  • Take your time to read the question properly.
  • Read it several times if you have to.
  • Underline the command words.
  • Underline the key terms.


  1. Planning your answer.
  • Make a short plan for essays – this will really help your essay have good structure.
  • Your plan should indicate the main point for each main body paragraph and the order of your main body paragraphs.
  • It should also include any case study examples.


  1. Answering the question – structure.
  • You absolutely have to use paragraphs – if you don’t, you cant get higher than a C grade.
  • All essays should have the following general structure:
  • Introduction – the aim of an introduction is to define any key terms in the essay question and to introduce the question. If it is a case study specific question, background info about the case study can also be given in the introduction.
  • Main body – your main body paragraphs should follow the PEEL structure.
    • Point: e.g. Earthquakes are mostly found along tectonic plate boundaries,
    • Evidence: e.g. such as along the western coast of the USA where the North American and Pacific plates meet.
    • Explain: e.g. This is because at tectonic plate boundaries, stress and friction builds up due to convergent and divergent movement.
    • Link: e.g. Therefore you are more likely to find earthquakes when the stress builds too much, whereas in areas away from plate boundaries there are likely to be fewer earthquakes.
  • Conclusion – your conclusion should just summarise your main points in each main body paragraph.
  • 8 to 10 mark questions should have an introductory sentence at the least, but a conclusion may not be necessary.


  1. Answering the question – language
  • You should always use academic language throughout your essay or answer.
  • You should be using as many Geography terms as possible.
  • You need to watch your SPAG (spelling, punctation and grammar) at all times.
  • You should have legible handwriting, not too small and also not too big.


  1. Checking your work
  • If you have time left at the end of an exam, always check over your answers. Trust me, you will find SPAG errors at the very least.

Sebastian is a geography tutor with Newman Tuition. To book a lesson with him, or one of our other tutors, please call us on 020 3198 8006 or complete the form on the Contact Us page.

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