#1 thing you should be doing in your exams

I have recently marked my first lot of final exams ever. Surprisingly, I found it quite fun. I learned a lot from the experience, not to mention that students taught me a few new (made-up) theories on the subject matter.

After reading through more than 100 exams, I realised that one tip I had received during my university studies was not common knowledge. So I decided to share it here fore you now, so that it may help you during your final exams.

You should highlight the main parts of your answer.

English: A closeup of yellow and orange highli...

These are your secret weapon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, it’s as simple as that.

Think of it this way. You are one of several hundred students sitting an exam. You want a good grade, but so does everyone else. How do you stand out? You need to make it easy for the examiner to give you a good grade. Now, they are not going to give you a good grade just because you use all pretty colours in your exam answers.

No, but highlighting the most important parts of your answer allows the examiners to see that you have answered the question very quickly, easily and pain free.

They will then award you the marks that you deserve. It is easy for an examiner to miss that brilliant point you made, simply because they may skim read your answers or they have limited time to read each exam paper. However if you highlight the main part of the answer, then they are hardly going to miss it. In fact, it could be that the examiner really only focuses on the parts of the answer that you highlight, so it needs to be done right.

Here is an example of a good answer that has been highlighted correctly. The red text is what you would highlight.


Question: Outline the role of Public Relations in promotion. (4 marks)


Public relations describes promotional efforts designed to build and sustain good relations between an organisation and it’s stakeholders. Stakeholders include customers, employees, neighbours, shareholders, regulators, governments, competitors, the media and society in general.

In contrast to advertising, which often promotes products, brands or the organisation though direct paid communications in the media, public relations uses written materials, sponsorships, giveaways, good deeds and other ways to generate positive publicity and goodwill toward the organisation. Public relations is also used reactively to counter poor publicity or as a part of crisis management. The main outcome of public relations is publicity. Publicity is the exposure a marketing organisation received when it obtains free coverage in the media.


As you can see, the highlighted portion of the text is the most important part of the answer. Everything else is important, but not essential to answering the exam question.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for using a highlighter in the exam:


  • Highlight the MAIN parts of your answer only.
  • Pick keywords out of your answer, and highlight these. For example if your question is asking for advantages and disadvantages, highlight these words.
  • Choose a darker coloured highlighter. Fleuro yellow is a little too bright. A blue, green or pink highlighter is easier to be seen.
  • Remember to take the highlighter in the exam with you. This will be your new secret weapon.
  • Spend 30 seconds at the end of writing each answer highlighting.
  • Use your highlighter to draw a model that you are talking about. For example if you are drawing a cycle, you could use the highlighter to draw the arrows. In this case you could also circle the text, effectively placing the text in a textbox.


  • Use more than 1 colour. Your exam paper should not look like a rainbow.
  • Don’t highlight your whole answer. Not EVERY word you say is important.
  • Don’t leave highlighting until right at the end of your exam. You could run out of time. More importantly, you will have forgotten which were the main points of your answer. Instead, do it at the end of each question.

So there you have it. One thing that you should be doing in every exam.

You may also like:

If you liked this post, please hit share or follow this blog to receive more posts just like this one.


5 thoughts on “#1 thing you should be doing in your exams

  1. Pingback: 5 Reasons you can’t miss University Orientation | My Academic Wonderings

  2. Pingback: Learning to Love University – a post for Valentines Day | My Academic Wonderings

  3. Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to browse
    your website on my iphone during lunch break. I love the info
    you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not
    even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, wonderful blog!

  4. Howdy! I know this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does managing a well-established blog like yours take a lot of work?
    I’m brand new to blogging but I do write in my
    diary everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new aspiring blog owners.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s