The most effective exam practice technique: sample answers

University of London study notesWith  exams around the corner, every student struggles to find the best possible technique of learning, preparing and understanding core concepts of subjects. Some prefer extensive reading, some make long notes, while others find it easy to memorize pointers.

When I was in my first year, I found it quite difficult to manage my studies. Basically, I was unable to explore the different ways of preparing for university examinations. However, the first time experience was both challenging as well as inspiring. Where there were subjects for which I had been preparing all year, through essential readings and past paper practice, there were some modules for which I had been making sample answers, or, answers to past examination papers for each chapter, for example.

Despite the fact that I had been good at most of my subjects, with my understanding capabilities and written expressions, I realized that I scored higher on the subject for which I had been reading all year, and in the end had made sample answers. This might sound confusing or maybe something that is tough with the lengthy content of 200 and 300 level courses, but this has been quite helpful to me personally. We students tend to study all year round, in our institutes or at home or with our work. But sometimes we are unable to manage extensive studying and research with a lot of other things to do; family commitments, work pressure, and much more.

For students at institutes it is a lot more easier I believe. I have been on track and have completed reading and understanding my subjects in both my first as well as current second year until end of February. While this year, I am taking two subjects that are not offered in my institute because of a very few number of students taking it; two to be precise. And it is now that I have truly understood and felt to the core, how it might be for students who are studying with a lot of other work in their lives. So here I am giving out the most effective exam practice technique, which I have personally used, and with which I have received a commendable result. It is not difficult and it is even more useful if you have lost a lot time and need to cover a theoretical subject in a way that you can score well.

Reading and research is the most vital part of our studies. It is quite time consuming and requires a lot of effort. But if you keep in mind that you read for answering questions, you read for critical thinking, then it makes it quite interesting. I am not insisting that we study for preparing questions, or rote learn material, because we gain knowledge beyond questions or exams; but the fact that answering questions on a particular phenomenon provides a very healthy stimulus for our brains to think in numerous possible angles.

practice makes perfect post-itAnswering past examination questions, be it according to order of topics, or order of paper year, qualifies a student with something that is most crucial to the examinations themselves: writing. Most students are unable to manage time due to lack of writing practice or are even incapable of writing well due to lack of past paper practice. When we answer a particular question and write for it, we definitely would want to read for it. Using all the relevant and essential readings and research, we prepare answers that cover almost all of the chapter. So the answers contain references, contemporary examples, statistics, and all and many kinds of evidences that we use to support our argument. This means for subjects like Elements of social and applied psychology, Human Geography, Contemporary sociology in a global age, Business and management in a global context, and many other social science subjects can be easily prepared with sample answers which contain all the material required. In turn, one not only understands the concepts, but also practices writing more and well within the constraints of time. For the answers, the examiner reports are most useful in keeping in line with what the examiners expect.

It should be kept in mind that it is way easier to memorize something that has been written by yourself. Thus, the answers you write, will make it easier for you to learn them for your exam preparation. And as they will contain references and evidence of your research and complete understanding of concepts, you can score very well. This technique is used by many students all over the world, and they score higher than students who prefer studying, reading and memorizing. Making sample answers also assists people who do not have time to read extensively. They can read for a particular question on a topic, and cover almost all the required material.

On our VLE Portal, a Study Month is currently taking place for many subjects for people studying programmes directed by LSE. It is quite helpful with lectures and questions that are set by examiners themselves. There are also weekly activities and discussions on forums for exam preparation. The best and most appreciated part about this is that the examiners themselves are online to answer our questions and for clearing any ambiguities we have with regards to questions and/or core concepts. I have myself been in touch with Bradley Franks for Elements of social and applied psychology and found the responses quite helpful.

Altogether, the pen is powerful. The more you read and write, the more you will know. Preparation through sample answers is quite effective and probably is the most efficient way of organizing and utilizing the last one and a half month before examinations commence.

Best wishes to all the students of University of London International Programmes, wherever they may be.


Sundus is studying for the BSc Sociology in Pakistan with support from Roots College International. The BSc Sociology is not available to new students, however you can still study for a Diploma for Graduates in Sociology.

12 Responses to The most effective exam practice technique: sample answers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your sharing^^

  2. Renee says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post – I do believe that working through past exam papers forces your mind to comprehend the material as a whole, instead of the individual parts that make up the chapters. Doesnt hurt that you get to practice essay writing at the same time!

  3. Sundus says:

    Thank you Renee! I hope it helps! All the best!

  4. Sundus says:

    You’re welcome!

  5. Josh says:

    I just happened to read your blog whilst doing some research. This is exactly what I’ve been doing as an LLB student!! This method forces you to think logically and rethink the problem you might not have come up with when you just read. Sometimes you thought the author sounded right all along, but as you started writing, you will stop and realise “Hey, it doesn’t seem to make sense here”. The only piece of advice is that before “finalising” your answer, please discuss with your classmates and tutor and make sure your answer covers most, if not all, you are expected to know.

  6. Sundus says:

    Thats what I do Josh! I get my answers checked from my teachers as I study at an institute.

  7. Sridhar says:

    Hi Sundus, Thanks for sharing your experience. What do you mean by ‘Preparation through sample answers’. Please elaborate.

  8. Sundus says:

    Writing answers to past examination questions

  9. hamza says:

    Its really helpful and encouraging, as I also tried this approach in my previous exams, and was really happy with the results. Thanks Sundus, for sharing your thoughts with all.

  10. Killian Russell says:

    Thanks Sundus for your great post. No doubt this is a great technique for exam preparation, but what do you do to embed this knowledge into long term memory. I suppose rereading these sample questions would suffice.

  11. Sundus says:

    Yes Killian. They have to be learned of course so you can write them in the exam. But as mentioned in the post, it is better because you do not need to open the essential texts for every single thing. You have a sample answer made for every topic which has material from the guide as well as references of the texts.

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