After each Management Diploma in Insurance (MDI) exam , we collate examiner reports and feedback so future students can learn where mistakes typically happen. We find that similar themes arise each time, so here are some of the key tips for exam techniques that can prove to be the difference between success and failure.
1. Be focused and stay relevant
- Don’t waste time by writing out the question before the answer – it's unnecessary and you won't get any extra marks for it. Clearly numbering the answers is enough and saves you precious time.
- Familiarise yourself with the key words (e.g. Identify, Describe, Discuss) so you can easily identify what is being asked of you and how to frame your answer. You can find a list of key words and their meanings in your learning plan.
- To focus your mind on what's required, underline the important concepts/information in the question.
- Keep referring back to the question as you work through your answer to ensure that you're providing the information requested. Remember, answer the question asked, not the question you would have liked to have been asked!
- You don’t have to answer questions in the order they appear on the paper; just be sure to clearly label each answer. It can help you to settle into your exam by answering the questions you’re most confident about first.
2. Manage your time effectively
Correctly managing your time within the exam can have a dramatic effect on your final result. Bear the following points in mind:
- Only answer the required number of questions on the paper.
- Spend the allocated amount of time on each question, then move on to the next one. By spending too long on any one question, you are losing the opportunity to gain marks that could be earned on another question.
- If a question simply asks you to state, list or identify certain pieces of information, this can be quickly presented in bullet point form without the need for elaboration.
- If a question asks you to explain, discuss or describe a particular point or theory it is likely that this will have a higher mark allocation and will require a more detailed response.
- If you find you're running out of time, use bullet points to record as much of an answer as possible. It is better to say something rather than nothing at all.
3. Plan, structure and review your answers
A good plan and structure to your answers will allow you to showcase your knowledge to the examiner. The following points are worth practicing and keeping in mind on exam day.
- For questions that require elaboration or discussion, note the different parts of the question, sort these into a logical sequence and then check that you have covered all relevant points.
- Ensure that you include rough work and / or notes in your answer book. If you run out of time at the end of an exam, you may refer examiners back to these notes to show that you have at least covered the main points and marks can be awarded for this.
- Examiners can't assume knowledge so you should remember to write down all facts, even ones that may seem so obvious that they aren't worth mentioning.
- If you feel you may have made a mistake in a calculation, still complete the question in full. If the final calculation is wrong but your logic or method is right, you will still get the majority of the marks available.
4. Don't forget about presentation
- Examiners welcome answers that make their work simpler. You can achieve this by neat presentation, short sentences and a different paragraph to illustrate each point. Headings are also very helpful.
- Make sure that your writing is legible so that the examiner can award marks if relevant.
- Don’t use tippex as it takes too long to dry. Instead, cross mistakes out clearly.
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