Acknowledging and overcoming your weaknesses

8 October 2020

Weaknesses - we all have them. The important thing is to put in place an action plan that overcomes your exam technique weaknesses. The first step is to identify these.  

We have worked with over 4,000 students and in our experience exam technique weaknesses fall into one of 3 broad categories - panic, perfectionism, and procrastination (the 3 Ps). Sadly, in the ACA Case Study exam there just isn’t time to waste on these areas – you need to be focused on your report and making sure you cover what is asked of you.

Mock Exams are now upon us so it is time to go back to our house build analogy. Windows will represent Mock Exams and show what can happen when you succumb to one of the 3 Ps.


In your haste to meet the deadline, you do not fully understand the instructions. From a single misinterpretation you end up putting the window in upside down. In the case of your exam, this is usually where you have not analysed the question, and you answer the question in your head rather than what is written. Remember, the markers can only award you credit from the marking key so however clever your point is, if it is not relevant to the question you will not get the marks.


The window is in, it looks good but you notice a small lump in the sealant and stay late to make it 100% perfect. This may sound great, but time is running out and you still have 3 more windows to fit. This is a common issue with students, you may write Requirement 1 so beautifully that you get top marks, but this is not a total marks exam. You must get a minimum of 50% competent grades in each requirement to pass, so sticking to time and accepting that each area of your exam may not be “perfect” is a massive step towards passing if perfectionism is one of your traits.  


Oh, where to start? And when you do start? Which way should you tilt the window to secure it in place? Do you use frame sealant or mortar?

You get the point!

You should by now have built your AI notes and these will cover everything you need alongside the information given in the exam paper. Use your first Mock Exams to really drill down into the questions you are being asked and where you will find the information in your AI notes. These first exams are not expected to be completed to time so make sure you take this opportunity to build your decisive approach and beat procrastination ahead of the exam.

Time for a little exercise

Spend 5 minutes right now thinking about what holds you back in the exam. Don’t put it off, you have already committed to reading this blog so just spend those extra moments right now.

Are you an over thinker? Do you spend so much time focussing on getting all possible marks for one area you run out of time to give a good enough answer in other areas?

Now WRITE IT DOWN! Acknowledge it, and decide how you will overcome it in the exam.

Will you set a strict time frame for answering each Requirement and then move on (this is something we strongly recommend, especially if perfectionism eats into your time)?

Do you take a deep breath to focus your mind before you analyse the question in front of you?

When you are in that exam it is just you, you are the one in control so having an idea of what may hold you back and action plan on how to deal with it will boost your confidence when you sit the Beal Case Study Exam in November.    

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