Why Study Past Exam Papers?
Studying past exam papers is a great way to prepare for exams.
It is important to study using exam papers. Combine it with reading the theory for greater results.
Exams require thorough preparation and a lot of students struggle between the choice of reading more theory or practicing with past exam papers. In this post, we will be looking at why you should use past exam papers.
Before we get into this, you should remember that understanding theory is important for passing the exam. Academics argue that a student who understands theory becomes good at applying it to solve real life problems. Let us not stress you and get into why we are here.
So what are the benefits of studying past exam papers?
You will know how the exam is styled.
When you do past papers, you get to know how your exam is styled. You need to know if your paper is an essay-kind, multiple-choice, one word, or calculation based.
Having this information, you will be able to know how marks are distributed if it is an essay kind. You will also be able to see the trend of possible calculation problems and prepare as required.
You will understand marks allocation.
It is good to know how your marks are allocated. Not only will it help to know which topics guarantee you a pass, but it will help you to allocate time as per the exam needs.
Most students say, focus on the topic with more marks. But what happens when you don't get the maximum marks in that topic/question? We therefore say, do all questions and treat them equally. But it does not end here.
Improves your time management.
Now that you know how marks are allocated, the next step should be the time allocation for each question/topic.
Your maths and physical sciences exam papers are all valued at 150 marks and each given 3 hours. We will talk of their individual mark allocation in a later post.
What the marks mean for you is that if you spend one minute per mark, you will have completed your exam in 150 minutes. You will then have 30 minutes to go over your answers and correct what needs to be corrected. NB: Sometimes you may spend even less than 30 seconds or may spend even 10 minutes on a five marks question. It depends.
Don't put yourself under pressure. Work according to your abilities. But the above time allocation works.
It highlights topics that you need to put more work on.
When you do past papers, you get to learn about your understanding of the concept. This gives you an opportunity to correct and learn what you might have missed in your initial studying. When you don't do well in a topic, you will be able to go back to the drawing board and polish the few elements that confused you.
Help you gather more techniques.
When you look at the memos of your questions papers, you can see that there may sometimes be more than one method to answering the question. This can be gathered if one uses past exam papers. So, doing past exam papers improves your problem solving skills and arms you with variety of techniques to use for the exam
Helps you plan how to order questions you answer according to difficulty.
This one is put as the last benefit because we do not expect you to get to the exam unprepared or unsure. But if you do, you may use the strategy that the first questions you answer are those that you know, and only later will you attempt those that you do not know. This will also save you time and capitalise on your strengths.