Problem solved – taking exams

I always lose track of time in exams – how can I ensure I allocate enough time to each question?

Well, the good news is that ACCA now provides 15 minutes of reading time for all three-hour exams, so there are no excuses for not allocating your time appropriately.

Make every minute count. If you have been practising with past papers and talking to your tutor about what might be expected, then – even allowing for the syllabus change – you should already be familiar with the exam structure, even if you can’t predict the actual questions. But how you plan your time in response to the questions set can make the difference between success and re-sit.

Examine the paper fully. Look for optional questions where you can pick up maximum marks, and avoid those that may stretch your knowledge too far. Sketch out a schedule of how long you are going to spend on each question (and actually write the time at which you should be starting each one, eg 11.20 or 15.15) and stick to it. Remember to build in time to re-read your answers at the end. Keep a beady eye on the clock, comparing the time against your schedule so that you know when you should be moving on to the next question.

Read instructions carefully. Examiners report that students often fail to pick up marks through not answering questions in the right way – not because they lack an understanding of the syllabus, but because they haven’t given the examiner what they asked for. And rushing through the paper because you are worried about time is a sure-fire recipe for getting this wrong, and ending up way off schedule.

Remember – failing to manage your time correctly during the exam can cost you dearly. And if you don’t think you can complete a question because you don’t have enough time, that’s no reason not to attempt it – you can still acquire marks that could tip the balance and gain you a pass.

"Examine the paper fully. Look for optional questions where you can pick up maximum marks, and avoid those that may stretch your knowledge too far"