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How much does exam technique play a part in university exams? watch

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    In A level, consideration must be made to the markschemes and examiners reports to gain grade As, particularly for essay based subjects. Is this the case in university, that a system must be followed to pick up marks, or is the content of your answer more important than the technique?
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    I would say like A-levels etc. there is an element of technique involved in the exams which flagrantly varies from uni to uni.
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    I think exam technique can only take you so far (it certainly can't get you top marks. Or at least it can't in my case!), though having said that, the mark scheme for my third year exams puts a lot of emphasis on essay style... :yeah:
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    In my experience at uni content is the important thing: the only exam technique you have to worry about is making sure you answer all the questions in the appropriate time. There is little prior guidance and I have never received any feedback on an exam (although I know this varies between unis and departments), and I have generally done well despite just writing down everything I can remember on the topic in a vague structure. Its completely different from A level exams in my experience.
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    well i went from a 57% average in the first year to 67% after actually reading the examiners reports and looking at past papers instead of thinking i could do well just by being clever, lol.
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    My uni or my subject must be weird as we have never been informed of or had access to any such thing as a markscheme, examiners report or past papers. hmm
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    You can sometimes brown nose the marker at uni. Say your communist lecturer is marking the exam, just add a bit of a left twist to your essay.
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    Most definitely.

    I don't think you are right to make a division between "exam technique" and "content" though. In an exam environment, you simply can't have good content unless you have a good technique: technique is about getting all the content down and not repeating yourself.

    For instance, in law, people with good technique systematically consider the relevant issues. That it, good exam technique actually means that your content is good. People with bad technique just talk about random bits of law which may or may not be relevant to the question: no matter how much you know about the law, 45minutes of tangentially relevant randomness will never be better in content than 45minutes of systematic and well-focused stuff.
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    (Original post by Fusion)
    You can sometimes brown nose the marker at uni. Say your communist lecturer is marking the exam, just add a bit of a left twist to your essay.
    I've found the opposite - the highest graded essays I've done are ones where I've directly taken on the viewpoint of the person marking it. For instance, my highest marked essay concerned reforms proposed by the Law Commission which was chaired by the person marking it. I completely rubbished his report and said it was going completely up the wrong tree. He absolutely loved it!

    Most academics love controversy because thats what they do, brown-nosing is boring and won't help you stand out
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    Most definitely.

    I don't think you are right to make a division between "exam technique" and "content" though. In an exam environment, you simply can't have good content unless you have a good technique: technique is about getting all the content down and not repeating yourself.

    For instance, in law, people with good technique systematically consider the relevant issues. That it, good exam technique actually means that your content is good. People with bad technique just talk about random bits of law which may or may not be relevant to the question: no matter how much you know about the law, 45minutes of tangentially relevant randomness will never be better in content than 45minutes of systematic and well-focused stuff.
    By exam technique I don't mean considering each point individually and contrasting each point with the reverse argument, and weighing up pros and cons. I mean, for example in A level economics, even when writing essays, if you don't mention a particular topic they are looking for, but mention most if not all of the rest, you won't gain those high marks. The question doesn't give you a hint of what that topic is, to get the high marks. So, I mean, exam technique, whereby you need to know what the examiners are looking for and answer the question accordingly, not answering the question how you would, if you can see where I'm coming from.
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    Probably about 60% of the mark
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    I've found the opposite - the highest graded essays I've done are ones where I've directly taken on the viewpoint of the person marking it. For instance, my highest marked essay concerned reforms proposed by the Law Commission which was chaired by the person marking it. I completely rubbished his report and said it was going completely up the wrong tree. He absolutely loved it!

    Most academics love controversy because thats what they do, brown-nosing is boring and won't help you stand out
    That is a fairly risky strategy though! There is always a chance of them taking it the wrong way or being dismissive of your argument.

    One of my lecturers who is responsible for marking often has work published and he has wrote a book which became one of our core texts for the year. Me and a group of friends all referenced his work in an exam to see how he reacted.

    About 7 of us did this and he absolutely loved it! I doubt we got extra marks though.
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    (Original post by Nick_000)
    That is a fairly risky strategy though! There is always a chance of them taking it the wrong way or being dismissive of your argument.

    One of my lecturers who is responsible for marking often has work published and he has wrote a book which became one of our core texts for the year. Me and a group of friends all referenced his work in an exam to see how he reacted.

    About 7 of us did this and he absolutely loved it! I doubt we got extra marks though.
    You can't possibly get marked down if its academically honest. If its a point which you back-up and give evidence for, thats what academia is all about. You'd have to be a completely awful academic for marking-down a essay simply because you personally disagree with some of the arguments it makes - particularly in law!

    That said, its a risky strategy if you don't really know what you are talking about - if thats the case, then you are indeed best off repeating the majority view like a parrot.

    (Original post by vinsta)
    By exam technique I don't mean considering each point individually and contrasting each point with the reverse argument, and weighing up pros and cons. I mean, for example in A level economics, even when writing essays, if you don't mention a particular topic they are looking for, but mention most if not all of the rest, you won't gain those high marks. The question doesn't give you a hint of what that topic is, to get the high marks. So, I mean, exam technique, whereby you need to know what the examiners are looking for and answer the question accordingly, not answering the question how you would, if you can see where I'm coming from.
    I see exactly what you mean - its just one aspect of exam technique really.
    To cut a long-answer short, the answer is yes.

    I don't think its so much the unis or the examiners wanting you to read words in, but its inherent in law as a subject. However, at A-level you can get a lot of marks simply by reading a bunch of mark schemes because the questions are generally short and the marking system is made easy because they have morons marking it. You can't get as much mileage out of mark schemes at uni - its not really about following the mark scheme though you should still read it. But there are still certain questions which are just loaded.

    To give an example, a essay question "Should a defence of Change of Position be recognised to equitable tracing claims?" isn't really about the merits of a Change of Position defence at all. The reason the question is asked is because recognising a Change of Position defence would imply that tracing claims have a personal/restitionary nature rather than a proprietary nature. So the question is really about the fundamental nature of equitable tracing claims, and if you just wrote narrowly about what a Change of Position defence is and whether it should be recognised you would get a poor mark.

    To understand the subtext of this, you need to have read journal articles. So at uni this aspect of exam technique is harder in a lot of ways: you need to have read the mark schemes (which are often skeleton, not like A-level) AND have an awareness of the academic debates, rather than just reading your textbook. You can't just open a book that has all you need to know like you can at A-level
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    I've found the opposite - the highest graded essays I've done are ones where I've directly taken on the viewpoint of the person marking it. For instance, my highest marked essay concerned reforms proposed by the Law Commission which was chaired by the person marking it. I completely rubbished his report and said it was going completely up the wrong tree. He absolutely loved it!

    Most academics love controversy because thats what they do, brown-nosing is boring and won't help you stand out
    To a great extent, though of course not arbitrarily, I would regard the above as absolutely critical advice.

    Top academics are looking for original thinkers and seek cutting edge theories in their best students, not sheep who follow the typical, easily lit path. This could easily be to a degree fairly individual (I for example am following a specifically academic career, so I'm expected to be an argumentative ******* :p: ). Having said that, you are asked to critique, to posit, and to explore the work of others in an effort to advance not only your learning but to make a contribution to your field - if you can't do that then you're just going to be the 99% of students who want their three years merely to lead onto something else as opposed to an isolated and intense learning experience appreciated for its own sake.

    To a decent extent you need to be brave, bold, dynamic and extremely focussed. Controversy is not in and of itself to be desired, but if you spot something which leans toward that, then you should not be at all frightened of exploring it. The vast, vast majority of academics would look at the little sod who critiqued their own work originally and dynamically with admiration - these are the kind of people they are, in effect, and how they gained these positions in the academic world. In my experience, they usually take you aside as someone to polish in their own image, actually.

    I would personally pity the students who take the safe path. They are missing out on some wonderful learning experiences.
 
 
 
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