Manage your time
You have 1hr 45mins for the Science paper. 56% of the marks are in the MCQ and 44% in the open-ended section. This means you have roughly 1min per mark (2 mins per question on the MCQ).
- The MCQ is the biggest component with 56% of the marks, and with each question worth 2% of your total score, it is the most important. So take your time and be very careful with each question.
- You may not need to spend a whole hour on the MCQ.
- Aim to leave at least 10-15 minutes at the end to check the whole paper thoroughly.
- Some questions are easy – do these calmly and carefully but quickly and move on, so that you will have time for the harder questions.
- If you’re stuck on a question, leave it first. Come back to question after you finish the whole paper.
- Look through the paper quickly and make sure you’ve answered all the questions. Check the OAS to make sure you’ve shaded the correct answer.
- Don’t leave any question unanswered. If it’s an MCQ you can guess the best answer and your odds of getting it correct may be more than 50%. If it’s a open-ended question you may get awarded partial marks.
- Circle/ take note of the keywords (eg. all, false, true, only, none). Take care especially of “false” and “incorrect”.
- Read the question carefully. Take note of, for example, “extension” vs “length” of spring. Whether the experiment is carried out in the dark.
- Some questions are of the following format: “which of the following is false?”. Use the method you prefer. Typically I like to write an “F” for false statements and “T” for true statements.
- Some questions have multiple statements and the question asks “which is correct?” and gives you a choice of “P, Q, R”, “P only” etc. You may not know for certain if Q is true or false, but if you are sure R is definitely false, you can cross it out and eliminate that answer.
- When checking, check that you’ve shaded the correct answer. Work from another angle to make sure that your answer is correct. Look at the other options to make sure you’ve selected the most appropriate one.
- Read the question carefully and take note of the keywords. Answer the question directly. For example, when the question asks “What happens to the temperature of the water?” The answer is “The temperature increases” not “The water gets hotter”.
- Most questions are broken into parts. Read all parts of the question first before attempting. The reason is the latter parts of the question builds up on the earlier parts. Reading the whole question before attempting means you get a clearer understanding of what the question is asking.
- When asked to compare, remember to state the different properties of BOTH the two objects you’re comparing. For example, “state the difference between gases and liquids” – you will need to say “gases are … while liquids are..”
- For 1 mark question, the answer required is brief and direct. Usually, there is only one or two items /keywords.
- For 2 mark questions, you will be required to give a longer and more detailed answer. If the question is “identify… and explain why”,1 mark is for the identification and 1 mark for the explanation.
- For 3 mark questions, look at the space given. If there are only a few lines, it’s probably a more factual recall type of question and you don’t need much explanation. If it’s longer, break down the answer for the examiner so that it is clear and marks can be easily given for each statement or keyword. Don’t write in long sentences – the examiner may assume it’s only one point.
- Remember, don’t leave any question blank! You may get awarded partial marks if you hit some keywords and concepts even if you may not understand it completely. Some questions are really testing your ability to infer and think rather than your knowledge.
- Stay calm and have a positive and focused mind.The best way to approach the questions is with a clear, open mind, and being calm will reduce errors and improve recollection. Don’t worry about your past grades, or how well you’re going to do for this paper or the subsequent one. Now isn’t the time to be thinking of other things. Just work through the exam, one question at a time. Worrying about another question won’t help you with the current one!
- Sleep early. There is no point doing last minute revisions. Even if you haven’t finished your revisions, it is more productive to sleep early than to revise till 1 or 2am into the night.
- Eat your usual breakfast. Don’t try anything funny. You don’t want to be struggling with a stomach-ache.