This article is going to focus on an area where a lot of learners seem to be struggling with…and that is how to write enough words for the exam.
1 – What, AND WHY! This is useful for many question types, particularly Q’s that start with, ‘based on the scenario only, what…’ Example –
Based on the scenario only, what management failures could have contributed to this accident?
Start with two columns, in the left column pull out snippets that are relevant. This may involve going through the scenario more than once to ensure you haven’t missed anything. These snippets can begin as cut and pastes but will need to be re-written in your own words before submitting your paper.
Remember to stay on task. Highlighting failures by workers for example won’t get you far because the task is to highlight management failures.
You will need to develop your answer further though if you want to accrue more marks and a good way to do this is to use the right hand column to explain (in your own words) for each item in the left column WHY it’s you think it’s relevant.
Some Q’s don’t say you have to base it on the scenario and simply ask WHY, or HOW. Example –
2 (a) Why must this most recent accident be reported by the employer to the enforcing authority? (5)
(b) How would you report this most recent accident as the employer? (5)
Of course, you are still free to use information from the scenario if you want, but this type of question should provide no major challenge for those you have put the work in. In my opinion, these should be much easier to answer. If you’re struggling, my second tip might be useful…
2 – Read/research, write, repeat. So, the question is worth 20 points, which means you should be looking to write 600 words at least but you can only come up with half of that. In that scenario – you’ve got some reading and research to do, which is going to eat up some of the time you have available so make sure you have a system in place that enables you to find the information you need fast and efficiently. Come back to your paper and write some more. Got 600 words yet? No? Repeat. If after 2 repetitions you’re still short, take a break and move on. If you are managing your time effectively you can always come back to it later.
3 – Comment on. These ‘comment on’ questions can be quite tricky because they seem so open-ended. Example –
Based on the scenario only, comment on the company’s approach to assessing health and safety risks.
Here’s an approach that can work well that involves using positive and negative attributes.
Again, use two columns. In the left column, list positive things and in the right column list negative things.
So, based on the example question a positive thing might be that the company have an internal audit system in place that includes auditing the risk assessment process. A negative thing could be that the company does not respond effectively to risks identified by the workforce during changes to normal operations.
If you want to expand on your points – use tip 1 and explain the WHY or the HOW.
There is no single approach that is going to work with every question in the exam, so to prepare properly – you need to have multiple techniques in your repertoire that you can call upon when needed for different types of questions. This video has provided you with three, check out our other videos for more, but remember that you will need to practice applying them well in advance of exam day.