Writing too much can actually count against you in exams
Writing too much can count against you in exams
Studying hard for their exams is not the only thing your teen needs to do in order to be well prepared.

They also need to dedicate time to planning how they’re going to answer their exam questions.

Because there’s actually a right and a wrong way to tackle exam questions.

The best exam answers are the simplest ones.

This is because —

  1. Marking schedules are short and succinct. The answer is the answer, and no amount of aimless fluff is going to get you extra marks!
  2. When examiners are bombarded with poorly structured and hard to follow answers, they can’t possibly award the student full marks.
  3. From experience, we know that long-winded answers are a sign the student doesn’t understand what they’re writing about as well as they need to. Examiners know this too. They might not mark a student down on that question because of it – but it may cast a shadow over the rest of the paper.
  4. Examiner often have hundreds (if not thousands!) of exam papers to mark. Lengthy exam answers will simply slow down this process without any real gain for your teen. You don’t want an examiner to dislike marking your paper!
  5. Long answers take more time to write! This means your teen has less time for other questions.

So, don’t babble.

It’s actually quite difficult to not babble on when answering exam questions. Everyone waffles on and waivers from the main point when they’re under pressure and not entirely sure of their answer.

When we read over practice exams students have done, some answers are extremely convoluted. Answers longer than a few sentences tend to jump all over the show making it very difficult to follow what they’re saying.

Giving a concise and well-structured answer to an exam question is a great skill.

Which is why we strongly recommend your teen practices the art of succinct answers while they’re studying for their exams.

How should your teen ensure they get the best marks?

1. Practice answering only the question being asked.

2. If a question has more than one part to it, your teen needs to answer each part in the order they’re asked. Further, your teen’s answers need to have blatantly obvious structure. We recommend starting on a new line every time your teen is answering a new part of the question. This will show the examiner they know exactly what part of the question they’re answering!

3. Practice giving the simplest answers they can. If it’s possible for your teen to explain something in one sentence, then that’s the way to go.

No fancy words.

No 50-word sentences.

Just short and snappy answers.

The examiner just wants to see your teen understands what’s being asked.


Hopefully your teen can get their hands on some past exams and/or work books with exam-style questions. They should then practice giving full but simple and concise answers.

It would probably be really useful if you have a look at some of their answers and see if they’re writing simply or not. Even if you don’t understand the content of what they’re writing about, you’ll definitely be able to tell if their writing is concise and well-structured or not!

Image Credit: Dreamstime



  1. This article come in time for the preparation of my daughter exams, I find helpful points which I do appreciate that you make me aware of it. Thanks.

    • For only 2 marks I wouldn’t expect you to be writing more than a paragraph, but it completely depends on the question. Hopefully you’re given an indication of how long your answer should be approximately, by way of lines on the page or a suggestion. If you can have a look at some practice Q&As to see what’s expected.


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