Guide to surviving the A200 exam Exams can be daunting but with the right preparation you can remove some of the stress. Start by thinking about the purpose of the exam and the skills and knowledge it will test. The A200 exam tests your knowledge of the module and the skills you have learnt during your study. You have already practiced these in your assignments. Part 1 of the Exam tests your ability to analyse a source. You did this in TMA 01 and TMA 03 and in the activities in the module blocks.
Part 2 tests your ability write an essay in response to a question. You have practiced this in TMA 02 to TMA 05. Part 3 asks you to answer a question about one of the course themes. You practised this in TMA 06. The big difference between the exam and the TMA is the time constraint: you have to answer questions that you have not seen beforehand in timed conditions. You can prepare for this by revising the skills and topics that you have studied in A200 and by familiarising yourself with the sort of questions that will come up.
Exam preparation Familiarise yourself with the exam: study the Specimen Exam Paper and the Advanced Notification of Texts and Topics so that you know how the exam paper will be set out and the sorts of questions that will come up. Think about the format of the paper and the kinds of essays you are required to write. The A200 Exam has three parts. Each part requires you to write a slightly different type of answer in response to a question. For Part 1 you have to answer a question based on a source.
Part 2 requires you to write a traditional essay in response to a question on one of the blocks and Part 3 asks you to write an essay that considers the course themes over two or more blocks of the module. Use the Advance Notification to focus your revision. This tells you which blocks will be examined in Parts 1 and 2. It also gives you a hint of the topic that will come up in relation to the module themes in Part 3. Revise. There are no hard and fast rules on how to do this. You need to find out what works for you. There are revision tips on the Skills for OU Study website: http://www. pen. ac. uk/skillsforstudy/. Remember to refresh your understanding of skills such as how to analyse a source and how to construct an argument with evidence, as well as the themes and topics you have studied. Practice writing by hand under a time constraint. If you use computers a lot you may not be used to writing by hand. Seeing how much you can write in an hour will help you to pace yourself on the day. Remember the longest answers are not necessarily the best. Focused essays that clearly address the question, regardless of length, usually get the best marks.
Also remember that writing an essay on a computer, when you can draft and redraft, is not the same process as writing a one-off exam answer. You are advised, therefore, to practice answering exam questions by hand, in the allotted time, to ensure you can develop a good structure, organise your material and develop a coherent argument in such circumstances On the day Don’t panic. Take time to read through the paper. Follow the rubric. Read the instructions on the front of the exam paper and make sure you follow them.
Remember you have to answer one question from each of the three parts. Remember also that there should be no significant overlap in the content of your different answers. You can answer questions in any order. You might want to start with the question you are most confident with. This may help you to get going. Answer the question set. Don’t be tempted to include irrelevant material or write an answer to a question you had hoped would have come up. Structure your answer carefully. Take time to write a plan. Make sure your answer has an introduction, middle and a conclusion.
Construct an argument with evidence, don’t simply narrate or describe a series of events or, in the case of Part 1, recount the contents of the document. Pull out the significance of the points you make and show their relevance to the question. Manage your time effectively. Don’t spend too long on one question and risk running out of time on others. You will need to spend about an hour on each question. Answer all the questions. A weak answer to a question will gain more marks than no answer at all. If you run out of time make a brief note of the key points you wanted to include. In summary
Exams are an essential aspect of degree level study. They test your knowledge of the module and the skills you have learnt throughout your study. Remember you have already practiced these skills in your assignments. In your TMAs you will have learnt how to construct an argument with evidence, evaluate sources and understand and engage with historical debates. The big difference in the exam is the time constraint. Familiarising yourself with the layout of the paper, revising topics and reminding yourself of the skills you need to demonstrate will help you to respond better to unseen questions in timed conditions.