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It is always possible for a candidate to finish answering examination questions on time.

Today I’m going to show you how you can finish all you have to do in a test within the stipulated time.

Does the below scenario sound familiar?

A student who is writing a test is busy trying to add some more answers to the answer sheet. He writes, then cancels what he has written. He uses his hand  to scratch his head, searching for some inspiration from up  there.

Nothing seems to be working. He desperately moves to another question. He is scribbling something very fast. His normal, very clear handwriting has suddenly become unreadable.

Now he is taking quick glances at the invigilator. He is praying very hard for the invigilator to forget about mentioning the dreaded phrase, STOP WORK – at least for a few moments.

No luck

But he is not lucky. It has come out, all the same. He ignores the stop work order. He keeps on writing. Fast. Desperately. It is like telling doomsday itself to go to hell no matter the consequences.

But alas! Doomsday has come to stay. The invigilator approaches menacingly. “It’s your turn, my friend. Hand over those sheets and go to rest.” He announces. “You have done your part. Leave the rest to your examiner.” The invigilator is trying to encourage this visibly shaken candidate.

But all these kind words fall on deaf ears. Our student under pressure is now turning over to the front page to supply his full name and other details. He has just remembered he must write down the serial number of questions answered and so on.

The invigilator has to move on. He decides to abandon this student who appears to forget the rules governing an important examination of this nature. Student now runs after invigilator, pleading that he should tamper justice with mercy.He is pleading with him to collect his answer sheets. Uncompleted answer sheets. The invigilator turns round. Fire in his eyes now. He yanks the sheets out of desperate student’s hands

How to Finish Answering Your Examination Questions On Time

How would you feel in a similar situation?

Now let me ask you this simple question. How would you feel to find yourself in the shoes of this candidate at this particular moment? Would you be in high spirits if you failed to finish answering examination questions on time?

Well … not; unless you don’t know or don’t care about the dire consequences of what has just happened.

If you did care, you would feel like throwing up or something similar but worse.

Sadly, this is a common scenario. I personally experienced this on a few occasions during my elementary school years. On several occasions, I couldn’t finish answering my Mathematics exam questions on time.

Thank God, not after that. I learnt my lessons fast and began to improve on my exam time management skills. I have always hated to find myself in an avoidable tight corner like this.

Learn to finish answering examination questions on time

So let me show you what any candidate must do so that they can finish answering examination questions quickly enough. I can assure you that it is possible to do this in any school examination – internal or external. It is indeed possible to finish early, sit back and begin to relax long before you hear the invigilator bellows:


Why the failure to finish answering examination questions

Which candidates am I referring to here? I am talking about any candidate in a school examination like end of term tests,  WASSCE, NECO, JAMB, GCE, SAT, and so on.

To be able to finish a test paper early, there is something important that must begin it all.You must know the causes of students failure to finish answering examination questions on time.

When you know the causes of your repeated failure to hand over a fully completed answer sheet to your previous invigilators then you will know what to do to avoid such a bad situation next time.

When you know the causes of your repeated failure to hand over a fully-completed answer sheet to your previous invigilators then you will know what to do to avoid such a bad situation next time. Click To Tweet

So let’s begin with the common causes of school examination candidates failure to finish their work before time is over.

Insufficient preparation before the test

The first cause is inadequate preparation during the months and weeks before the examination.

There are many students who may not even care to know the details of the subject syllabus. Such students go to sit there not knowing exactly what to expect. It is only when the questions are given out to them that reality finally dawns on them.

It goes without saying that, unless he is a magician of some sort, such a student cannot do much. Even conjuring answers from thin air to questions you never prepared for must take a very long time. Longer than the stipulated period on the question paper.

No speed writing skills

A second reason many students are unable to finish answering examination questions is their inability to write very fast. Speed writing is difficult for many students. There is no way you can beat the time in a school test if you write at a snail’s pace.

There is no way you can beat the time in a school test if you write at a snail’s pace. Click To Tweet

Lack of concentration

A third factor responsible for failure to work within the time given for a test paper is lack of concentration. There are many reasons for this so we may have to leave them for another post to take care of them.

However, let me just mention one common cause of lack of concentration on the part of a candidate in an examination. This happens often when a student is fond of doing other unimportant things. The commonest among these unhelpful habits is conversing with other candidates while the test is in progress.

Late arrival at the examination venue

Late arrival for the test is another common cause of candidates inability to finish their test papers on time.

No pen, no mathematical set, no calculator!

Some candidates in a school test arrive at the exam centre without the necessary tools for the examination. Therefore, they will have to engage in the time-wasting activity of asking other candidates for these essential tools. In some scenarios, the invigilator becomes the supplier of such things as calculators, pens and drawing materials.

Please remember this. An invigilator who allows you to behave as you please in a test is never your friend. He is your number one enemy of progress. You know why? Because he is helping you to waste your precious time. Beware!

So how do you make sure that you are able to finish answering the required number of questions in an examination? The below points should be enough to see you through.

So keep reading.

There is a number of extremely important things you must do before the examination.

Get the subject syllabus and study it thoroughly.

Note the total number of questions you are expected to answer. If it is the WASSCE or NECO Literature-in-English syllabus, for example, note the number of questions to answer for each section of your test paper.

Do not forget to also take note of the duration stated in the syllabus for each paper and section.

Figure out how easy it is to work with certain sections within the time limit. You also need to figure out how difficult it is for others. This is the usual case in any school test that I’ve ever written. While it is quite easy dealing with some sections of the test paper, it can be relatively tough in  the case of others.

Familiarizing yourself with these realities before the test would make you apportion your time appropriately.

Practice your own mock tests before the actual test.

Set yourself standard test questions with standard test periods. Keep working hard to learn to work within the time limit. This is particularly important if you are homeschooling yourself or you’re a private candidate.

You will also need to be self-disciplined enough to make this work for you. Cheating your own self even at this preparatory stage will never help you.

Practice speed writing

Practice and master speed writing. Are you a private candidate? I would strongly advise that you practice with at least ten self-directed mock tests before the real show. You know what I mean. This is the best way to stand a much better chance of finishing everything early and properly.

 If you’re a regular student  in a school, you will do yourself a world of good by making sure that you take active part in all mock tests.

Do the following on the day of the test in order to finish answering examination questions early.

Arrive early at the examination centre.

Arrive at the examination centre several minutes before it all begins. My recommendation is that you must get there at least thirty minutes before the paper starts.

I can tell you that if I have to write a test today, I will be there a full hour or more before START WORK. I’m used to that so that’s how it stays.

Make sure you come with all your tools.

Don’t leave anything behind. And never leave anything to chance. You may even bring such materials like pen, pencil, calculators and so on in pairs. Just in case. Don’t you agree?

Concentrate on the test well enough.

Remember this is your day. It is your only chance to prove yourself worthy of all the investment that others have made in your education. You would definitely love to make your parents and teachers proud of you, wouldn’t you?

I believe there is no better reason than this to focus on the goal. Put your whole being into working to achieve it.

Refuse to engage in time-wasting conversation even if your invigilator allows that. He or she has nothing to lose by this lax attitude. You have.

Also, do not allow your colleague candidates to distract you unnecessarily. It is not wickedness on your part to ignore them at this crucial moment in your life. And, of course, it is not a show of anti-social behaviour – whatever anyone may mean by that.

My point is that this is the only day and time you have for this very important exercise. You must, therefore, remain focused to make sure you deliver the goods.

Avoid deviating from the demands of the questions.

I have known very unfortunate situations where a candidate realizes, only at the eleventh hour, that all they have provided on the answer sheet is nowhere close to what is expected from them.

So when it is left with a few minutes, or sometimes seconds, to hand over the answer sheet, they will desperately try to cancel everything in order to do it all over again.

 An exercise in futility. No?

I believe strongly that it all boils down to making adequate preparations before the test. So that is the biggest tip I will leave with you as you make genuine efforts to make sure that you beat the time (not the other way round) in your upcoming WASSCE, NECO, JAMB, GCE, IGSCE or end-of-term test.

Thank you.