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You need to know about the exam. The specimen exam paper and copies of past papers help you become familiar with the format of the exam paper and whether there are compulsory questions.
One of your module mailings will include a specimen examination paper, which will be very similar in structure to the actual exam paper. When you get it
Some specimen exam papers include answers to give you an idea of the type of content expected - but accept that your own answers will be less polished than these.
Familiarising yourself with the specimen exam paper is an important part of preparing yourself for the exam. Mark, an OU tutor, explains.Sign in to view this video
Here is a checklist of questions to help you think about the format of your exam (you can also download a copy of this here: find out about the exam paper (RTF, 3.4MB). Add other questions to suit your own module.
It is very important to answer the right number of questions. You will lose marks if you answer too few, and waste time if you answer too many. Read the instructions on the exam paper carefully.
As I walked out of the exam room, I realised I had missed out a compulsory section! Reading simple instructions can be hard when you have that knotted-up feeling at the beginning of an exam.
Unless the question papers are restricted or this is the first year of a module, you can also order previous exam papers. Use these to practise constructing answers to exam questions. If you have example answers in your specimen exam paper they will help you see how to construct answers, but if you find this difficult then discuss it with your tutor or study adviser, or with other students. Be aware of any differences in the format of previous exams and remember that the exam questions and topics change each year, so you won't be able to predict just what you'll find.
Once you understand the structure of the exam, think about the following as you plan your approach.