Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have to take some competition exams in the few upcoming months regarding a job in the government sector. I've taken this kind of exams before, but failed to score enough (need to score approximately 75% to get a job and I scored 65%).

These exams have questions related to quantitative aptitude, reasoning, maths, English and general knowledge. All questions have four choices, and you have to choose one answer out of those four. Most of the exams have 200 questions and you have 2 hours to answer to all of them.

Some of my friends have passed these exams and this gives me a little bit of stress. (Possibly this is human nature). So now for upcoming examination I start to think about my weak points and I realize that possibly I am not able to think and calculate fast. And I also might have some problems with time management.

These days unemployment rate is growing day to day and exams for getting jobs are going to be harder. Today only super brilliant people can get a good job but what happens to average people? I know nothing is impossible, but things are a little bit different in the real world. But hope is always there and I'm looking for advice.

I want to know why some people are successful in exams and I am not. I studied hard and tried hard. Does this happens to a lot of people in the world? If thinking speed is a problem then why are some people able to think fast and in better way than others? I want to know why this happens and what is the reason of my failure.

And I also want to know how to think fast, calculate fast, how to solve questions and problems fast, how to handle stress, how manage time in exams, etc.

So my main question and problem is how do I score better in competition exams? Please explain your answer in details, because I'm sure your answers will be helpful. Thanks

share|improve this question
This is not an answer, but it happened to me (in my first years of university) that I failed some exams where I studied hard, while my friends didn't studied too much and passed them. Very kindly, the professor took me aside and told me that maybe I was too much agitated during exams. True story. I began to relax before tests and to think twice before answering. I shortly passed all my exams. – spocchio Nov 19 '13 at 15:41
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It doesn't matter what the topic is, there are only a few things you can do that will make a difference:

  • Most importantly: study the topic fully. Make sure you understand the types of questions that will be asked
  • Practice: take as many similar tests as possible - you can train yourself in taking tests more effectively
  • Rest well: make sure you get a good sleep not only the night before, but for the week leading up to the test
  • Keep fit: eating healthily and having regular exercise improve your ability to do anything.
share|improve this answer

One of the most important things to do before an important exam is to make sure you are well rested. We often get caught up in trying to get so many things done we neglect one of our most basic needs – sleep. I would also do something that normally raises your self-confidence: look at previous accomplishments, take note of how far you have come since you first started your course of study, etc.

That being said I think it's also important for you to know that when it comes to landing a job your technical skills are only part of the equation. When I'm interviewing people I'm evaluating two main things: “Is this person competent?” and “Will this person fit in well with the team?”

A person's ability to fit in and work well with the existing team is more important than them being a “super star” developer. I don't care if a candidate has memorized all the odd quirks of a programming language because I know they can easily look that up online.

Your ability to work well with others and to learn new things are the most important things when it comes to employability.

share|improve this answer

Find a test taking book. It usually has strategies to help you avoid "traps" in the test.

For example, may questions may give you 2 points. But one of them may take 10 minutes, while another one takes only 2. Do the 2 minute question FIRST, then do the 10 minute one later if you have time.

This is just one of many tricks for increasing your score.

Another one is to "eliminate wrong answers" in a multiple choice format. If you have four answers and one is obviously wrong, you now have a 1 in 3 chance of randomly guessing right.

One LSAT test suggested avoiding the "obviously right" answer (they called it the "Joe Bloggs" answer) as it was a trap for lazy guessers. So if you eliminate both obviously right and obviously wrong answers correctly you have 1 in 2 chance of getting it right.

And so on.


share|improve this answer

This is a very common problem. To get good score in exams requires two things. First one is knowledge and second one is to use that knowledge in exam in the right manner (Exam Skills: Ability to present your knowledge in the exam hall).

So First acquire knowledge. Go through every concept. Try not to memorize rather try to learn every formula derivation.

Exam Skills: These skills are as important as having sound knowledge. These skills helps you to get the marks you deserved in exam hall. In exam you need to show your specific knowledge in fix duration with accuracy. According to me, there are four parameters you should focus on to improve your marks in exams.

  1. QQA (Question quality assessment): Before starting the paper, go through the exam paper and try to identify easy questions. Never attempt paper from start or end. Attempt easy questions first and then medium level questions. If time left then go for rest of the questions. This is very very important and helps a lot in getting more marks with the same level of knowledge.

  2. SMI (Silly mistake immunity): I met thousands of students who faced the issue of silly mistakes. A silly mistake is when: -you multiply 3x2 by 2x3 and get 5x6, even though you know the Exponent Laws backwards and forwards. -your sloppy writing causes a 7 to mysteriously turn into a 1. -you forget that a question is an EXCEPTION question. -you fail to notice crucial information such as “x is an integer” or “w < 0.” -you calculate Pat’s current age when the question asked for the Pat’s age 5 years from now. -you ticked the solutions while it asked for no of solutions.

The fact that student not only possess the desired knowledge but also solved the question correctly still they get negative marks in that question.

  1. Accuracy: Common trait of student to attempt majority of questions whether possessing full knowledge or not to solve those questions. And most of the time it turns out their bad luck and gets negative marks. So always give first priority to accuracy. Don't attempt those question you don't know.

  2. Speed: Its also important as it doesnt matter whether knew all questions or not in the paper unless you solved them ad ticked the right choice. So you have to have good speed of writing, good speed of clicking the right method to solve a question etc.

As knowledge can not be gain in a day, same is true for Exam skills too. It requires practice or I must say a lots of practice.

mail me if need more assistance on any of skills ( I have been researching on exam skills for past 1 year)

Jai Goyal

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.