It’s most student’s greatest nightmare; running out of time in exam. Because you may have poorly allocated your time throughout the test, or because you’ve answered a previous question only too well because you knew too damn much about it and you want your teacher knew you knew. It is a common problem that there just isn’t time to complete the last question. So what should you do? How can you demonstrate to the examiners that you know the answers, but only have limited time to demonstrate this?
The answer is relatively straightforward. Depending on the subject, you can get around this issue in many ways. But the common answer that applies throughout any subject is to summarize, or show the procedure that you would take to solve the problem. By doing this, you are demonstrating that you do know how to complete the task, therefore your examiner will give you far more credit for this and not seeing a blank or partly complete answer. What you shouldn’t do is to attempt to answer it in the way it can be publishable book manuscript it self. Some questions are too general and you can just write it until tomorrow. It is likely you will only be able to undertake a portion of the answer, and while you may get credit for this, it won’t be much, or at the very best, full marks for 1 question out of… say 5 questions.
For example, if you were taking an English exam, and you had to write an essay which would normally take 30 minutes to complete, but you only have 10 minutes left. What you should do is to briefly explain you are running out of time, but then answer the question as concisely as possible. Provide a brief introduction, then bullet point your main points or argument, and then briefly conclude it. You could also describe the process by which you would answer it normally, but just get something on the page that demonstrates that you do know the answer.
Similarly, for math, instead of actually doing the question, write out the procedure and formulae by which you would have normally answered the question. You can do that in 10 minutes, and would demonstrate to the examiner you know how to do the question. At last, you can put a little note down there saying “I don’t have time to finish the question, but this is how I would do it” You get more marks that way, because you demonstrate you know the subject, you know what you are talking about, you just don’t have the time to write it down in full (Even though sometimes you really don’t know and you are just bluffing). Many teachers will give you partial credits, some nearly full.
There is an old saying, prevention is better than cure. These methods described are only the cure, preventing the issue ever arising is for more advantageous, and comes by careful planning and exam experience. What you can do, before you even begin the exam is to read through the paper and allocate time for each question based on the marks given. So higher mark questions will obviously take more time. Next, do the questions you can easily do first. Get those completed first and you could find yourself with even more time to allocate to the larger and harder questions. You should never be running out of time in exams again.
Being successful in exams is only a small part knowledge. Exam technique and application is a huge part of being a success. The final attribute of exam success is to work out what the examiner wants, and giving it to him.
In fact that final point is probably one of the most important factors you will ever learn in school; in the real world, your employers will always be expecting things of you, and so understanding what it is and how to deliver will not only make you a success in exams, but in life as well.