Are you Actually Answering the Question?

Do a crap-test

How does your writing rate on the "Crap-O-Meter" ?

We often take the path of least resistance. In nature electricity and heat follow the materials of least resistance. Spilt water follows the easiest way to get to the lowest point. This is all to do with using the least energy.

People often follow the path that is the least work and causes the least stress. We can easily make this mistake when answering an exam question. In this stressful environment, when writing we can get on to a line of thought then follow it because it feels comfortable. We can write lots of words very quickly because it feels right and it feels easy. We feel less stressed when we do this.

However, have you actually answered the right question? What about the right sub-questions?

What really is stressful is when you finish this exam question and then find that you have not actually answered what they are after. Man, I did this a lot as a student!

Here I recommend using the "Stucture technique." For each exam question; quickly develop the structure of your answer as your first step.

The Foundation or Structure of your Answer.

The foundation is the most boring part of a house but is also the most important. The foundation is under the house so you can not even see it. However, without a good foundation the house will always have a problem. There will be cracks and other problems that will be very expensive to fix. This is the same for many aspects of life.

The education you are getting now can be the foundation for a great work life.

In an exam, the structure you develop for an answer is the foundation that sets up your writing. If the structure of your answer is flawed, then your answer will have problems.

So, even though just writing straight away feels less stressful and the easiest thing to do, there is a chance that it may lead to your answer having problems, as you have not set up a good structure.

So, I recommend that, before writing the answer to a complex question, first quickly lay out a simple structure to your answer on the notes page in the left hand side. You could use a mind-map. Then spend a moment to reread the question and consider this structure to ensure that you feel you are answering it in the right way.

The Crap Test.

Are you writing rubbish

I also recommend that after you have written 10% of the answer you stop and go back to check if your structure is right and that you are actually answering the question. I like to call this technique a “Crap Test.” You can do this several times during your writing of a long answer.

Check to make sure that what you have written so far is not simply a "pile of crap" ;-).


Double check my writing