Density of Evidence.

Examiners are looking for Detail.

Part of the art of doing an exam is to know how much detail to include in an answer. This is the same for writing a report or essay, when applying for a job or for writing a report in our job.

In an exam paper; teachers are looking for a certain density of evidence. For example, if we are asked to give the key environmental issues concerning koalas we need to work out how many different issues we should give. How many is enough? How many will get a great mark? Have we included enough detail?

A student could write 200 words on 1 environmental issue or they could write 200 words covering up to, say, 8 environmental issues. We need to work out how many will get a great mark.

In exams we often like to see more examples rather than less. This means the writing is denser as there is more evidence per 100 words. The student has not just answered that section, but has answered it well.

There is obviously a trade-off between the number of examples we can give and the amount that we write about each example.

Exceeding expectations - Just a Little Bit more.

In marketing we use the technique of "Exceeding Expectations." If a customer needs something from you, you could give them more than they were expecting. In certain situations this will make a very big impression on them and will help ensure that they come back to you.

It can be difficult to know how dense to make each answer in an exam. If we are after a great mark we can use the technique “Just a little more for good measure.” This means if we have given one example to explain something, we could add another example just to make sure.

I recommend that, in the weeks leading up to the exam, students ask their teacher about the style of the exam questions. They should ask for guidence on the trade-off between the number of examples and the amount of explanation of each example. Sometimes teachers will give good information about the way they want to see the questions being answered.