Prepare - Exam Technique

Why bother with exam technique?

Good exam technique helps you to get better GCSEs because:

  • If you know what to expect you will cope with the pressure better

  • Your answers will be written the way the examiner wants them

Outcomes after using this page:


  • You will know how to cope with exams

  • You know how to get higher marks in exams

What is exam technique?


Exam technique has two parts, knowing:

  • The structure of the exam paper and how to spend your time effectively

  • How to answer exam questions​ to obtain the most marks

Structure of the Exam

Many people go into exams, not knowing what structure (duration, number of questions, type of questions) and content (syllabus topics) will be.

If you have done lots of practice papers you should be familiar with the structure of each paper.

If you have not done lots of practice papers then use the exam boards specification to find out about the structure of your exam. Some important information to know is:

  • Paper marks and % of total marks

  • Paper length

  • Marks per minute (marks / minutes)

  • Paper content

  • Any exam specific question types and level marking

Answering exam questions

To get the highest possible marks, you have to answer questions in the way the examiner wants them answered!

So to achieve better marks we have to:

  • Understand

  • Memorise

  • Practise

  • And then learn to answer questions the way the examiner wants them answered!

There is so much to cover at school that the last part of this process can be overlooked. 

Understanding how the examiner wants you to answer the questions is like learning an additional topic. For each type of question you have to understand:

  • Command words

  • Number of marks / minutes per question

  • Level marking - and how to write your answers to get the higher levels.

You can learn about answering exam questions by reading textbooks and exam specifications, however the best way to learn is by attempting papers, marking them, and then really understanding the mark schemes.