Lesson 24: Useful Techniques for Practice

This lesson describes various techniques that you can use to practice in a smart way. I have tried to be as generic as possible with the techniques described in this lesson. However, some of them might still not be entirely relevant to you. Please feel free to modify or tailor them according to your needs.


For a more comprehensive list of subject-specific tips, be sure to check the FREE Tips From Laureates section!


Multiple-Choice Questions


Many exam papers are made up of Multiple-Choice Questions. Therefore, you need to master them if you want to become a Laureate. Fortunately, it does not take a lot of time to complete an MCQ paper. So, you can definitely aim to do all MCQ papers you’ve downloaded. For instance, I used to do such papers on the bus during my commute between home and school. They are perfect practice to do during your idle time.


Some MCQs will be straightforward, whereas others will be trickier. Here are some tips for tackling them properly:


  1. Take the time to read the question first. Don’t hurry to answer the question. This is a BIG mistake! Don’t look at the answers just yet.

  2. Underline the key parts of the question, for example, the key definitions, concepts, or instructions. Pay close attention to the wordings of the problem as well.

  3. Before looking at the answers, try to answer the question in your head first. MCQ answers often try to trick you. By attempting to solve the problem without looking at the possible solutions, you are minimising the risk of being “tricked out of the correct answer”.

  4. Read all answer options carefully. Just like you did with the question, underline the critical features of each option.

  5. Eliminate all answers you think are obviously wrong. Strike them out with your pencil, so that you are no longer distracted by them.

  6. Out of the remaining option, select the BEST answer to the question. Often, in MCQs, there will be multiple answers that seem “correct” or partially correct. So, you need to pick the one you find best.

  7. If you are confused between 2 or more options, try to make some notes/comments next to each option to help you understand them better.

  8. If you genuinely can’t decide which answer is correct, make a guess. Just don’t leave it blank. For example, suppose you cannot choose between two options. Assuming one of them is correct, if you select an answer at random, you still have a 50% chance of getting it right! However, if you leave it blank, you have 0% chance of getting the mark(s) from the question.

  9. When doing an MCQ paper under exam conditions, answer the easy/more straightforward questions first. This will give you some encouragement right at the start.

  10. Top Tip: Look up some tough multiple-choice questions. Then, for each option, write down an in-depth logical explanation of why it’s correct or incorrect.


General Paper Essays


Some subjects involve essay-type questions, notably General Paper. To become good at GP essays, you obviously need to practice lots of them. Most Laureates recommend you write at least one essay per week. In my opinion, this is a good starting point. However, it is still a very limited approach because one essay per week might not be enough.


Regarding past papers, GP is a little bit different from other subjects because there is a syllabus (code 8019) specifically for Mauritius. This makes it hard to find all the Mauritius-specific past papers and mark schemes online. When it comes to essay practice, should you care? Not really! The General Paper past papers for syllabus codes 8001 and 8004 are readily available. Download them all. Don’t worry about the different word limits. All you are trying to do is finding as many essay titles as possible!


Here’s what you are going to do: You are going to do ALL the essays from all the GP exam papers you can find. Wait. What? Seriously? Is this even possible? Yes, it is, and it’s much easier than you think. I’m going to show you a technique to work 20+ GP essays per week! Use the list of broad topics found in the latest syllabus to choose which essays to work with.



8019_y20-21_sy
.pdf
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Notice that I’ve used the word “work” instead of “write”. You are not going to write 20 full GP essays per week. That would be crazy! Instead, you are going to write an OUTLINE for 20 GP essays per week. Is it hard to write an outline? No! It only takes 15 minutes. So, you need less than an hour to do this for four essays. Do this five days a week, and you’ll be working 20 essays per week! If you do this for one year, you will have worked 1000 essays! Do this for 2 years, and you have 2000 essays!


Assuming you have already picked an essay title, the hardest part is not to write the essay. The hardest part is to think about what to write in the essay. Once you have a clear outline, the essay will literally write itself! So, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write the outline:


Step 1


Take 5 minutes for brainstorming. Write down everything that comes to your mind. It does not have to be super neat. All you need to do at this stage is transfer everything that’s on your mind to a piece of paper. Just keep the pen moving, even if it’s to write “I don’t know what to write”! If you really need to, take an additional 5-10 minutes to perform a quick research about the topic.


Step 2


Take another 5 mins to draw a mind map of your ideas. The objective of this step is to “pre-process” your thoughts before “compiling” them into the outline.


Step 3


Use your mind map to neatly write down a clear outline for your essay. Here’s an example outline for an 8-paragraph essay:

 

Essay Title: <Write title here>


1. Introduction

  • Briefly list/describe what you’d like to write in the introduction.

2. Argument 1: <Name of Argument 1>

  • Briefly list/describe the main points of argument 1.

  • Mention any supporting example you want to use.

3. Argument 2: <Name of Argument 2>

  • Briefly list/describe the main points of argument 2.

  • Mention any supporting example you want to use.

4. Argument 3: <Name of Argument 3>

  • Briefly list/describe the main points of argument 3.

  • Mention any supporting example you want to use.

5. Argument 4: <Name of Argument 4>

  • Briefly list/describe the main points of argument 4.

  • Mention any supporting example you want to use.

6. Argument 5: <Name of Argument 5>

  • Briefly list/describe the main points of argument 5.

  • Mention any supporting example you want to use.

7. Argument 6: <Name of Argument 6>

  • Briefly list/describe the main points of argument 6.

  • Mention any supporting example you want to use.

8. Conclusion

  • Briefly list/describe what you’d like to write in the conclusion.

 

That’s it! It’s that simple! Write one essay outline per sheet and keep all your outlines neatly organised so that you may review them from time to time.


Bonus Tip


Take 15 minutes to perform this exercise before you write a complete essay. This will definitely pay off. Moreover, in the exam, just before you start writing your essay, you could write down a summary of your outline for the examiner. This will help them understand what your essay is about. Here’s an example summary of an outline:

 

Essay Title: <Write title here>

  1. Introduction

  2. Argument 1: <Name of Argument 1>

  3. Argument 2: <Name of Argument 2>

  4. Argument 3: <Name of Argument 3>

  5. Argument 4: <Name of Argument 4>

  6. Argument 5: <Name of Argument 5>

  7. Argument 6: <Name of Argument 6>

  8. Conclusion

 

Please note that writing outlines is not a substitute for writing complete essays. You should still aim to write at least 1-2 full essays per week! There’s no escaping this if you want to become a Laureate!


Please also note that the same principles can be used for other subjects involving essay-type questions, such as Economics and French.


Theory Questions


Some subjects or papers will be mostly calculations-based. However, they might also involve some theory questions. You should obviously attempt them on your own before looking at the Mark Schemes. However, after you’ve completed a past paper that involved theory questions, here’s what you can do: write down the Mark Scheme answer to every theory question in a separate copybook, and in an organised manner. Make sure to include which past paper each question is referring to. This is the strategy I adopted for Accounting. I firmly believe that it is this strategy that gave me the extra edge I needed to rank Top in the World in it. I obviously do not know how feasible this strategy can be for all subjects, but if you think you can use it to your advantage, please do so!

Finding out which practice techniques work best for you is an important part of your journey of becoming a Laureate. Keep experimenting with new techniques until you find what you are looking for!


Thus, the Key Takeaway is:


Search for the techniques that suit you!



Do you have any questions or comments? Post them below!


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