Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paralegal Tips: Are You Ready For The Exam?

If you're preparing for an exam, perhaps for your paralegal program or for your paralegal certification, it's important that you use planning and time organization techniques both for preparing for the exam and for taking it.

Here are five tips that will help you achieve your best results:

1. Walk into the exam room completely relaxed and refreshed. Get plenty of rest the night before and have a good meal at least 90 minutes before you begin. Repeat this mantra: I am prepared...I know this material...I am going to do well. Absolutely no negative thoughts allowed. If you need to, practice some deep breathing and other relaxation exercises. Above all, do not panic. Remember that if you fail, the world will not end.

2. Listen to instructions carefully and review the entire exam before you begin answering the questions. During this preliminary review, mark the easiest questions or areas that you feel most comfortable with. Determine the number of questions you will be answering and also the value of each question.

This will give you a good idea how to plan your testing time by allocating the number of minutes to be spent on each question based on the question's value. For instance, if you have one hour to finish the exam and there are ten questions with equal weight, you;ll spend five minutes on each question, with ten minutes remaining to review your answers. However, if one question is worth a greater percentage than the others, you will allot more time for that question.

3. Before you answer a question, read it aloud to yourself (of course, not too loud because others should not hear you). If the question is confusing, you may have to rephrase it. If the question has several parts, break it into steps and take it one step at a time.

4. Begin by answering the easiest questions and be sure to stick with your allotted time. If you find yourself struggling with a question, leave it and go on to the next one. You can return to the unanswered question once you complete the rest of the exam.

Be sure that you don't spend too much time on the questions that are easiest. Write enough to get the job done. Don't write an essay when one isn't required. You'll be wasting time that would be better spent answering those more difficult questions.

5. Always use your review time. When you've used your allotted time for answering questions, spend the remaining time reviewing your work. Read the questions and your answers, making any necessary corrections or additional material if it's necessary.

If there are blanks or unanswered questions, this is the time to complete those. Never leave a question unanswered. An unanswered question is definitely wrong. It's better to take a stab at an answer.

Bonus tip: Never understimate the importance of writing legibly. While neatness may take a bit of extra time, it certainly does no harm and may positively influence the person grading or reviewing the test.

Use these five tips when you take your next exam and see if they don't help you do your best work. Always remember that, as with everything in life, a bit of planning at the beginning of the exam will help keep you on track and get the best results.

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