Exams are not easy - they are stressful and alien environments that are often unfair. But it is no good crying in the toilet because the examiner asked a nasty question; get back in there and fight!
Aggression is an important component of successful student personalities - controlled aggression can help you cope with exams. When the examiner asks a horrible, ambiguous question, you respond, ‘what nonsense’ and give some nonsense back in return. Of course, wild thrashing nonsense is unlikely to hit the target and this is where the ‘control’ in controlled aggression comes in.
But the aim here is to contrast the behaviour of the students who see a nonsense requirement and think ‘I cannot do that’ and write nothing, and the aggressive students who see the same nonsense requirement and respond with ‘have some of this’ in return.
So how exactly should you respond to a nonsense requirement with controlled aggression? Let us start by looking at narrative response questions first. The key is to write something that is guaranteed to be on target to address the requirement, no matter how badly written that requirement may be.
The target will be to address the issues, no matter how far into the dark corners of the syllabus those issues might be hidden. So, look at the requirement and identify the verb - that will tell you what to do. Then look at the other words and read the full requirement - that will start to tell you what to talk about. Then go into the scenario and pick out the key issues - these will give you headings under which you can write some targeted nonsense; then go for it and don’t be scared. Keep control by writing clearly, simply, monitoring your timekeeping and make sure you write something for every requirement.
Equivalent tricks can be applied to objective test question nonsense. First, trawl through the population of all the objective test questions, picking up the answers to those that do make sense and can be answered immediately. But while you are skipping over the nonsense questions, you are also viewing the nonsense questions, and this allows the back of your brain to mull over the nonsense, while you are focused on the good questions.
Then you come back to the objective test questions, looking again at the nonsense, but this time trying to get a response. The time away from the nonsense question may already have allowed you to figure a response, but if not, then look at the flavour of the question and think what similar questions the examiner has asked before, and what the examiner has dictated as being correct in the past. Think about which responses you can isolate as clearly ‘inappropriate’ and then gamble on the remainder. But do it quickly and aggressively, and don’t let the nonsense undermine your speed and continuing aggression.
But aggression is not a switch in the back of your head that you can flick on in the exam. If you don’t practice aggression in the study environment, then you are unlikely to be able to deliver in the exam. So be aggressive with yourself during the learning. ‘So what if I don’t feel so good?’ you think to yourself when you had a bad day, but really should study. ‘So what? I am going to bash out this bunch of questions now and go to sleep tired and happy, and I am not going to let a bad day ruin my studies’. That will give you entitled controlled aggression, and that stuff is powerful voodoo.
This blog was written by Martin Jones, LSBF PQ Senior Tutor
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