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, an essay, applying for a job or for writing a report in your job.

How dense is your writing?

No, we are not asking how “stupid” is your writing (that is the wrong sort of “dense” ;-) ). Here we are using the meaning of density as “the number of items” per unit area. For your writing you could interpret this as something like “the number of pieces of evidence per 100 words.”

A good analogy is a sporting match like football. At your brother’s under 13 football match the crowd is likely to not be very dense. There will be some parents and some siblings (who would probably rather not be there ;-) ) around the football pitch. However at the final of the national football competition’s season the same size pitch will have maybe 100,000 people around it. This is obviously a very dense crowd.

So, thinking about your exam; your teacher is looking for a certain density of evidence. For example, if you are asked to give the key environmental issues concerning koalas you need to work out how many different issues you should give. How many is enough? How many will get a great mark? Have you included enough detail?

You could write 200 words on 1 environmental issue or you could write 200 words covering up to, say, 8 environmental issues. You need to work out how many will get you 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. You have not just answered that section, but have answered it well.

There is a trade-off between the number of examples you give and the amount that you 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 you are after a great mark you can use the technique “Just a little more for good measure.” This means if you have given one example to explain something, you could add another example just to make sure.

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


More evidence