In my yesterday’s post, I said I have tips on “how to write the answers that compel an examiner to give marks”. I was not sure if I should, but reader Dinesh Gajjar said that he was eager to see the tips, so here goes.
First of all, let me tell you something about the examiners. I have been one and have met with a lot of others and hence IMHO will be able to throw some light on them and their psychology.
First of all, they are human beings and don’t like to give low marks to anyone. They are in fact our allies. They are really on a lookout for reasons to give you marks.
Second, they are overworked and underpaid. Teaching is very rewarding, but checking papers is probably the least likable part of the profession. Added to that, it’s not very remunerative. An SSC examiner for a 100 marks paper would be paid about ten rupees. Even if we assume that it takes approximately ten minutes for one answer book, the teacher is getting paid about 60 rupees an hour, which is lower than what a rickshaw driver makes. I don’t mean to demean the profession of driving a rickshaw, but a teacher is definitely much more knowledgeable.
Thirdly, they are very conscientious people, and would want to do complete justice to their work and to the student.
If we understand this, then we can derive the technique for writing a paper that compels the teacher to give marks. The paper should be written in such a manner that the examiner can quickly find things in the answer paper to give marks and shouldn’t have to think before giving them. Here are some tips about how to do that.
Have a structure to the answer: Let the thoughts in an answer follow a logical structure, an order, a cause effect relationship. Once the examiner gets a feel for the structure and starts following along, he will feel comfortable with the answer and will give marks.
Make the structure apparent: Write the answer such that the structure in your answer becomes easy to understand and follow. It’s possible to do it by using paragraphs, indentations, using highlights, capitalizing etc.
Make the key concepts easily visible: This overlaps with the earlier point. Use highlighting, indentations, underlines so the key concepts are easily visible. This is very useful. In a 100 word answer, there are probably just 20 words that are key ideas. The remaining words are supporting words, add no value. The 80:20 principles applies here too.
Look at this post, don’t you think you get an idea of what the whole para says, by reading the bold words at the beginning of the para?
By making the concepts visible, you are helping the examiner understand the whole answer by reading just 20% of the words. He will save 80% of his time and would reward you for that saving.
Picture is worth a 1000 words: You have heard this before in many contexts, but it’s very true in exams, particularly exams in which diagrams can really showcase your understanding like science, geography etc. I will use a picture here to make my point.
The picture on the side shows the “somersault” locomotion of hydra. The corresponding explanation of this would take about a page of writing. Let’s imagine two cases. Case 1 – you write only the page long explanation. Case 2 – You write the page long explanation AND draw the diagram. I bet, you will get more marks in case 2. From examiner’s point of view, he will check the case 2 in about 10 seconds, whereas he would need to spend about 2 minutes to read your answer in case 1.
Hope these are useful. Please share any techniques that you may be using.