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Exam Procedures


  1. well rested
  2. early
  3. at the right place
  4. equipped with the right supplies
  5. without your knapsack, hat, or phone


  1. a watch
  2. facial tissues
  3. several blue pens
  4. if you’ll need to complete a Scantron card: several sharpened pencils and a good eraser
  5. a highlighter
  6. for mathematics
    • several sharpened pencils
    • a good eraser
    • a 30-cm ruler
    • a calculator with extra batteries (and know how to replace them!)

Do not bring

  1. knapsacks
  2. hats
  3. personal electronic devices including telephones

What to do 1st

As soon as you sit down, check that you have the right exam.

When the supervising teacher tells you to begin

  1. write your full name, roll number, and class (if appropriate)
  2. write the starting time and ending time beside the instructions
  3. check that your examination booklet has the right number of pages
  4. read the instructions on the cover sheet
  5. calculate how many marks you need to earn each minute—after deducting the time it will take to pre-read the exam and to check your work at the end

What to do 2nd

  1. Put down your pen.
  2. Quickly read each page of the exam.
  3. Look for
    • question types you don’t understand
    • words or phrases you don’t understand
    • pages printed incorrectly
  4. Ask for help with anything that arose in step 3.

What to do 3rd

  1. Decide which questions are
    • easy
    • medium
    • hard
  2. Before you answer a question, read it carefully. Answer the question that’s asked, not the question you imagine is asked.
  3. Answer the easy questions first. Don’t leave them to the end—you might run out of time!
  4. Answer the medium questions next—capture all of the marks that you can!
  5. Answer the hard questions last, paying close attention to the marking scheme and the time. If you run out of time on a question, abandon it and move on; if you’ve extra time at the end, you can return to it.
  6. Be sure not to spend more time on a question than it’s worth.

How to answer

  1. Pay close attention to the verbs used in questions. Each of the following requires a different response: name, list, state, describe, illustrate, compare, contrast, explain, analyze.
  2. The space provided for an answer is a clue as to the length of the expected answer.
  3. If several parts of a question appear without blank lines among them, you are expected to write your answers to all of the parts below the last part.
  4. If asked to
    • describe the significance of X
    • differentiate between X and Y
    • compare and contrast Y and Z
    • explain the relationship among X, Y, and Z
    • etc
    be sure your answer includes a definition of X, Y, and Z as appropriate.
  5. Write in blue ink.

What to do when 15 minutes remain

  1. Make sure you’ve attempted all of the easy and medium questions.
  2. Return to any hard questions that you abandoned earlier; did you learn or remember anything useful while you answered other questions?
  3. Start checking your work.

What to do when 5 minutes remain

  1. Double-check your name, roll number, and class (if appropriate) on the cover sheet.
  2. If appropriate, make sure your Scantron card is bubbled carefully with dark marks and clean erasures. > Education Commons

[This page last updated 2020-12-23 at 12h45 Toronto local time.]