How to master your time during sacs and VCE exams

It's a fundamental skill yet VCE students are struggling to master this essential skill - how to allocate time appropriately during a SAC or a VCE exam.

Failing to allocate enough time appropriately during an exam will normally lead to students leaving whole questions or parts of questions unanswered and as you know that leads to a loss of far too many marks.

There are normally several contributing factors…

# 1: Spending too much time planning
# 2: Wasting time by daydreaming or looking around the room.
# 3: Failing to stay accountable for an exam plan.
The skill to mastering this mistake is to learn to “budget your time” during the exam. Examiners will try to allow for students to complete an exam with somewhere between 30 minutes & 10 minutes to go. This allows for students to then complete it with enough time spare to check, proof-read then hand up.

Obviously the efficiency of your response writing, your “thinking time” and your preparation time will influence how much time is available, if at all. There are several techniques for dividing time appropriately:

Calculate how much time you have and divide it by either;

A: How many pages there are on the exam?
B: How many questions are on the exam?
C: How many sections of the exam?
D: How many marks are available on the exam?
For example:

A: 12 page short answer exam & 60 minutes to complete = 5 minutes per page.
B: 12 question exam & 120 minutes to complete = 10 minutes per question.
C: 3 parts of the exam worth equal marks & 120 minutes to complete = 40 minutes per section.
D: 10 marks (True/False), 30 marks (Multiple Choice), 60 marks (Short Answer) & 120 minutes to complete. 60% of your time should be spent on Short Answer Q’s, 30% of Multiple Choice, 10 % on True/False & in that order.
There is no perfect method of diving time evenly however you should really concentrate on the sections that provide you with the most marks.

One challenge with this method is that pages have differing amounts of questions, detail and marks so this is really just an AVERAGE use of time available.

With this premise you are likely to spend a proportional amount of time on the questions that give you the most marks. So…spend no more than 5 minutes at the beginning of the exam or in reading time to calculate how much time you can spend per page, per question, per section or per mark.

Practice this skill under pressure by timing yourself at home when completing practice tests and exams to help master this skill.

Until next time,



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