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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds Studying effectively is one thing, but open essay exams also require an effective approach. So let’s start with an important question. What are the two most common mistakes made during open essay exams? One, starting to write straight away, and two, wanting to write down everything you know about a subject. Well, that’s actually not too bad if you think about it. Taking a moment before you start writing is easy enough to do. And so is not writing everything down. But we’re not quite there yet. What else can you do to improve your chances in an open essay exam? We’ve come up with a step-by-step approach. Get an overview. Divide your time. Start with questions you know. Then answer the other questions.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second Check the whole exam. You start with getting an overview. First, take a look how many questions you will have to answer. Then try to see if you can find out what kind of answers are needed. Does the answer have to be short or long? Do you need to give a structured answer? Do you need to give a definition? Or do you have to sum up a list of elements, for example? But be aware– don’t try to understand the question yet. You only need to take a look at the total number of questions and the type of answers needed in order to make an estimation of how much time you will need to answer each question.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds The second step is to divide your time. This gives you an indication of how long you have for each question. It is more difficult to estimate the time for open questions than for multiple-choice questions. But it will give you a rough idea. Now it’s time to start with your exam. Start with the questions you find easy to answer. Leave aside those questions you don’t understand or find difficult at first glance. By starting in this way, you will boost your confidence and activate your knowledge. How can you activate your knowledge? Jot down anything relevant that comes to mind. This activates the part of your memory in which the relevant knowledge is stored. Then take another look at the question.

Skip to 2 minutes and 28 seconds What exactly is being asked? Formulate, briefly, the essence of your answer. You can structure your answer by using the same terms used in the question. Don’t include everything you know about a subject in your answer. The lecturer wants to see straightaway whether you can answer this specific question. Write down the answer with an introduction and conclusion. Now it’s time for the other questions, the more daunting questions. You might be able to answer them now that your knowledge has been activated. Approach them in the same way as you approach the more easy questions. You’re nearly done. Check the whole exam. Don’t rush. Pay attention to your answers. Are they right? All questions answered? Now it’s over and done with.

Skip to 3 minutes and 21 seconds Time to relax.

Dos and don'ts for open essay exams

In this video, you will get some dos and don’ts to get the best out of yourself during an open essay exam.

Do you have to do open essay exams in your study program?

If so: What is, for you personally, the most important thing to keep in mind during an open essay exam?

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Improving Your Study Techniques

University of Groningen

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