When you’re in an exam you only have a fixed length of time, so it’s important to make sure you don’t waste a second!

So what’s the secret to getting the most of those precious exam minutes?

The answer is PPS – Prepare, Plan, Stick to the plan!


Success in the exam room is based on what you do to prepare.  If you have done your revision and prepared your exam plan, then half the battle is won before the exam room door even opens.

Make sure you know which topics are your strongest.  Knowing your strengths can give you a huge boost of confidence in an exam.  You may even have written some possible answers before the exam on test papers.

When you get into the exam room, look for the questions on those topics and answer them first.  This means you get marks for your strongest areas of knowledge and increase your confidence by knowing you already have marks ‘in the bag’.

Now you can spend the remaining time working on the tougher questions without panicking about not getting enough marks to pass.


Going into an exam with your fingers crossed ‘for luck’ or sitting down and starting at question 1 and working through the questions in order won’t make good use of the limited time you have. You need a plan of action from the moment you sit down.

As soon as you sit down, prepare everything that you need for the exam.  Don’t wait until you are told to start to get out your pens or calculator and to get your watch set up to keep an eye on the time.  Have them ready before the exam starts.

As soon as the exam adjudicator says you can start, open the paper and before you start writing anything, read ALL the questions. Don’t’ worry if other people have started writing, follow your plan not theirs.

Use the SCAN plan:

SScan through all the questions quickly and identify those you are most confident about.

CChoose the order in which you will answer them

A – Allocate the time for each question – and build in review time at the end

NNow start writing your answers


Stick to the plan

With limited time, you have to ration it.  If there are 20 questions and you are confident about 10 of them, don’t allocate all the time to those, you can still score some marks on the others too, just maybe not as many.

Allocate about half of the time available to the questions you are confident about and divide it equally between them.

Then start writing and make sure that you stick as closely as possible to your planned timetable.  If you get stuck, give it an extra few minutes, then move on to the next question and come back later if you have time.

At the end of that first half, have a quick check back over anything you weren’t sure about, but if it doesn’t immediately come clear, move on.

Use the remaining time to answer as many of the other questions as you can.  Again divide the time among the questions equally, but leave 15 minutes at the end for checking and adding anything else you have remembered.

If you find you only know a little bit for one of those questions, write the bit you know as well as you can.  You may be surprised how many marks it gets you, even a short answer with the right information can sometimes push you up over a grade boundary.

When you’ve answered the questions you’re reasonably confident about you will probably find your mind calms down and allows answers to the other questions to surface.

Managing of your time and proper preparation and planning will make sure the most time goes where the most marks are likely to be scored and means you get the best possible results you can.