Short answer exams are designed to test students' recall of facts and course material and require students to demonstrate their understanding of that knowledge. 


Before the Exam

  1. Review course profiles
    This gives you an understanding of the course objectives as well as the themes that the course is centred around.  This can be a clue as to what content will be covered in exams.
  2. On-going study
    Plan a study schedule that begins at the start of semester.  Review lecture notes regularly to keep key concepts and ideas fresh in your mind. Look for themes that recur throughout the course and organise notes around these. 
  3. Be an active learner
    Instead of just reading your notes, vary your study activities to include answering chapter questions, explaining concepts to others, summarising main points from chapters, concept mapping and creating tables for information.

Sitting the Exam

  1. Read questions thoroughly
    Ensure to read questions carefully to understand what they ask.  Underlining key words and verbs can help to focus your attention.
  2. Read the whole exam before starting
    It can be a good idea to read the whole exam before starting.  This will not only help you to identify ‘easy’ questions that you may want to answer first, but it may also give you clues for answers elsewhere in the exam.
  3. Answer all questions
    It is important to attempt all questions.  Even partial marks can not be allocated if there is no answer
  4. Quantity is never a substitute for quality
    Avoid writing everything you know about a topic. Instead, look at what has been asked of you.  Clear, concise sentences are best.
  5. Repeat key words
    Use key words from the question in your answer; this will help you focus on what is being asked.