It’s been around 5 years now – my classmates keep cursing me, “how do you score so much more than us?”. In the beginning, they thought that I genuinely study more and hence score more. But as we have lived through these years together, they have realized that it is not I but the 10-pointer-topper who studies. Yet somehow, I managed to score a solid 9. For some time, even I wondered how that happened. I mean, I knew that in school, we would be given 2-5 marks for “neat and clean handwriting.” But was that all?
I gave it a thought, and this is what I observed:
Yes, we all know that handwriting is important, but it is just a little more important than we realize. We do not need to have ‘print-like’ handwriting. But there are a few things which do we need to take care of:
This is simple – if it is not neat, you are not serious about it. A glance at the answer sheet gives the evaluator a hint of how serious the examinee was about the exam. The more ‘unclean’ your paper is, the less serious you are. How to keep it clean? Strikeout what you need to with one or a couple of strokes. You do not need to make Halloween patterns all over the undesired section of your writing.
It has been statistically seen that non-cursive writings are valued more over cursive ones for exam papers. Do not get me wrong, cursives can be very good, but no one has time for art in an exam hall. It all becomes ‘an earphone in the pocket” at the end. So, if you have got atomic letters, you have a benefit in scoring.
This would not have come to my mind if I did not have such an observant classmate. She is a good one, but the spaces she gives in between letters, words or sentences, are not uniform. Do you remember what your notebooks used to look like when you first started to write in white/unruled papers? You do not want that now, do you?
Loops & Concavities
For those who are really bad at writing with hand, here is a bit of linguistic advice.
A letter gets its identity from its vital loops and concavities. A concavity is a direction in which a letter progresses, and a loop is a closed part in a letter. For example, the letter ‘u’ can be written as u. We can identify it because of its one basic concavity, which comes down and then goes up to where it started. If you leave it halfway through, it will not be ‘u’ anymore. The same happens with the loop of ‘o’. If we write ø, it is not ‘o’ anymore because, unlike ‘o’, it has 2 loops. How much these can be bent depends on the symbols present in the script. So, make sure that you do not tamper with the loops and concavities.
Well, be precise, even if you do not know the answer. When you write more, the evaluator will have more expectations, and unfortunately, if she digs into your answer and then fails to meet the expectations, you are done!! And this goes for everyone. Especially for the people who trash their exam paper with sh*t thinking that the literature and philosophy students can write anything in their answer sheets. Even they try to be as precise as possible – they write more only because abstract things need more language to put in black and white.
That you are confident should reflect in your paper. Do not attempt more than what you were asked to – that not only shows your weakness but also that does the work more for the evaluator, and come on, no one wants to work more.
Again, let’s say it’s not your weakness, but you are the nerd kind and cannot control yourself from attempting everything. Here is an advice – do NOT do that. You do not know everything, and your evaluator can sense your ego!! Even if you know more than your evaluator, do NOT try to SHOW that, especially in your answer sheet; that will take away your impression marks.
Now, we may not know all the answers needed to be written down. I have been advised not to scramble my answers and maintain a proper sequence. But that’s not exactly what I do. After evaluating a few papers, the evaluator basically gets an idea of the questions and their weights. If you have to scramble, make sure that you give a proper title (and by that, I do not mean to rewrite the question) so that the evaluator does not have to refer back to the question paper constantly. The more you reduce their work, the happier they are, the higher you score.
There is one more trick. We tend to attempt the ones we know first. But it’s better to slip in a not-so-good answer in between two good answers. This sandwich situation will trick the evaluator’s mind into judging it is of higher value than it actually is.
So, here is my art of writing an exam!!
Enjoy!! And Happy Exams!!
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