Examination Technique

Examination Technique

  • When you enter the exam, read through the paper carefully and make sure that you are clear about which sections you need to answer and the amount of marks given to each question.
  • Divide your time accordingly.
  • Plan your essay.

Before you do anything else, you need to read the different extracts in the exam. Remember that you are reading an extract from a play - it is meant to be performed.

Try to imagine the play on stage. Think about how it would appear, the response of the audience and which characters are on stage when. Once you have read the passages you are then in a position to choose which question to answer.

The first thing that you need to do in the exam is choose the appropriate question for you. Sometimes this is easy; one of the questions seems answerable, while the other is not..

In your exam you will normally be given a choice of two scenes. Choose the scene that feels right, make sure you are familiar with the scene and feel comfortable.

Don't choose the question on a single extract, because you think those questions are always easier. Remember that a comparative question offers a clear structure to your answer. There will be clear similarities and differences in a number of areas for you to consider.

Time spent planning is time well spent. It will avoid the problem of realising halfway through your essay that you don't know how to develop the answer. Are you able to structure your essay by breaking the question up into different parts.

Plan your essay briefly so that you have an idea of what you need to do, and can keep to time. If you have a clear structure then you will find it easier to add new ideas to the appropriate part of your essay.

As you have the extract in front of you, you are unlikely to score many marks for quoting great chunks of the passage.

Instead the examiner is looking for you to use close analysis of short quotations. This will show a strong understanding of the play. Making reference to lines from elsewhere in the play will obviously help you prove an understanding of the relevance of the scene to the play as a whole.

However, don't become preoccupied with quoting from and discussing other incidents in the play. Remember that your primary role is to comment and appreciate the scene presented to you.

Essay plans take less time than writing a whole essay, but will help you to focus on technique. Try this with sample questions from your teacher or exam board.

If you can't get hold of past paper questions then go to your local library. Take out a selection of plays. Choose one page and try to apply the techniques taught on unseen drama to this page.

If you find it difficult to do this for questions for the middle of the scene, then write about the opening page of the scene.

This may appear rather basic, but the more familiar you are with reading and writing about drama, the more confident and competent you will be in yourexam. People often spend more time reading novels and poetry, so they find writing about drama more difficult. Familiarity is the key.

Always make sure that your essay finishes with a clear conclusion summing up your points.

The purpose of the conclusion is to sum up your ideas from the essay, and put forward your overall main thoughts.

A simple solution to this process, is to answer the essay question again in three or four sentences. A good conclusion, helps the examiner to focus on the main points of your essay and draws your essay together.