How To Answer Examination Questions


How To Answer Examination Questions


Reading and studying hard for an examination is not the only guarantee of success in that examination. One must also know how to answer examination questions; answering examination questions requires proper planning and efficient strategizing.

When one knows how to answer examination questions, such a person won’t get stuck and forget unnecessarily: this post will also cover some mistakes people make in the examination hall and better approaches to them.
Without further Ado, let’s get into our steps for answering different types of examination questions.



When you are asked to answer a certain number of questions the from all the questions given:

  • First of all, go through all the questions you are given:

So many people make the mistake of jumping at the first question they think they can answer in an examination; they do not plan or strategize. Thus, they get stuck and start fidgeting.

This is because most examination question numbers contain sub-questions, and jumping at a question number without carefully examining the sub-questions can be suicidal especially when one finds out he cannot answer some sub-questions.

Also, time and resources would have been wasted. But we got you covered with our practical steps on how to plan properly. After going through all the questions you are given, mark the questions you want to answer since you have a choice with your pencil. This will help your brain to start preparing the answers in your subconscious.

Most people start answering question number one hoping to choose the other questions they will answer along the way, although it seems natural, it can lead to one forgetting important stuff as the brain will not be able to focus fully on the question being answered at the moment as it will be bothered if you will be able to answer other questions properly.

One tip for marking questions is choosing the ones with a lot to have questions you can answer confidently.

For example, if each question is fifteen marks and you find out that you can get eleven out of the fifteen marks in question number one confidently but you can get all fifteen marks in question number two although that would be lucky as you are not confident of some answers; it is advised that you go for question number two instead of one as you may get a mark lower than eleven if you attempt question number one.

  •  Jot the answers

This step requires still making use of your pencil and jotting the answers to any question that you do not know properly or that you think you can forget the answer to easily. You can jot the answers in front of the questions directly using short forms or abbreviations or codes, mnemonics, or other such prompts. You can do this for all the questions you want to answer, it helps to initiate confidence during the examination, I am a personal testimony.

  • Answer all

This style of instruction demands you to answer all the questions asked regardless of whether you can answer them confidently or not. You should apply the steps provided in the first instance, especially the last step but you have to think harder. Also, you need to know something- You do not need to answer all the questions correctly, if you are asked to answer five questions, it is advisable to spend your time on the questions you know, then trying to answer every question and wasting your time, you should do this, especially for the calculation-intensive exam. four questions answered completely and correctly is better than five questions that have incomplete or wrong answers.

How To Answer Theory Questions According To Instructions

This part of the post is to clear the controversy between the common instruction words -list, state, enumerate, highlight, discuss, explain, account for, and many more.
Let’s examine each word one by one

  • List: this ‘very’ instruction requires you to JUST LIST your points (answers) and nothing more.
    For example – list five countries in the world
    Answer: Canada, South Africa, U.S.A, U.K, China.
  • Highlight: it means to emphasize something. Therefore, questions with the instruction highlight may require an explanation. The overall purpose is that your answers must be clear.

    For example: Highlight five steps in in making a beautiful painting.

    The answer goes thus:

  1. Getting all the materials ready: A painter must have gotten his canvas, palette, and paintbrushes before he starts his work.
  2. Making a sketch: armed with what one wants to paint in one’s mind, the painter must then sketch what he wants to paint…
  • State: literally, state means to make a statement. It can also mean saying something carefully and clearly. Thus, the explanation is very necessary.

    Example: State three importance of agriculture.


  1. Agriculture provides food for man
  2. Agriculture provides man with raw materials
  3. Agriculture generates income for the farmers
  • Discuss: this is also very clear. It must involve an explanation after your answer has been provided.

Example: Discuss the effects of cultism

  1. Loss of lives: cultism leads to loss of lives when cult clashes occur. Also, people can be killed when they refuse to join a cult, try to leave a cult, or are attacked by cult members.
  2. Moral decadence: since cult members are allowed to behave as they wish due to the protection of the cult, they indulge in smoking, drinking, clubbing, and many immoral acts in society.
  • Enumerate: This means to name things on a list one by one. It is the same as a ‘list’
  • Account for: It means to state an account of something i.e to explain something as it is. For example, if you are asked to give an account of the civil war, you have to. Narrate what happened during the civil war in an orderly manner without tampering with any detail or giving your own opinion. In a question with this type of instruction, the similarity between the answers of the candidates who attempted the question must be visible and clear. They must write the same thing.

‘State the differences between’ and’ ‘differentiate’.

‘State the differences’ question requires you to tabulate. To be on the safe side, You can tabulate your answers.
Differentiating, on the other hand, does not necessarily require you to tabulate i.e You can separate your points with the conjunctions ‘while’ or ‘but’.
While ‘state the differences’ requires at least two points, differentiate requires just one main point or the definitions of the terms involved.

Example: State the differences between plant CELLS and animal cell

Note: the points in each column of your table must correspond with each other.

Plant cell: Animal cell
It has a cell wall and cell membrane It has a small vacuole

The approach above is WRONG because the points under animal cell and plant cell do not correspond. Therefore, marks for both points may be lost. Write like this instead :

Plant Cell Animal Cell
It has a cell wall and a cell membrane It has a cell membrane but no cell wallet
It has a large vacuole It has a small vacuole
Presence of chloroplast Absence of chloroplast

2.) Differentiate between demand and supply
Model answer:
Demand is the quantity of a commodity that a consumer is willing and able to buy at a particular price at a particular time.
Supply is the quantity of a commodity that a producer is willing and able to make available to the market at a particular time at the current market price.
Nite the use of ‘while’
Differentiate is mostly used when there is the main difference between two things and the examiner wants you to state it.

Compare and contrast: When one is asked to compare two things, it means to state their characteristics about each other without necessarily trying to differentiate them. It means to state the similarities and differences.
Contrast is the same thing as ‘state the differences between.
For a clearer image of what ‘compare’ entails, see the question below.
Compare arteries and veins.

Arteries Veins
It has a thick/muscular It has a thin/less muscular wallet
It carries blood away from the heart It carries blood to the heart blood 
Blood is pink, bright red in color blood blood Blood in is dark red

Explain, with the aid of a diagram: This is an instruction that brings about a lot of controversy as candidates are confused about whether they are to just draw a diagram without writing an explanation or to draw a diagram and write an explanation.

To solve this problem, let’s break down the instruction. The instruction is of two parts. The conjunction ‘with’ is what makes us know this. The parts are explained and explained with the aid of a labeled diagram. Therefore you must not only draw a diagram but you must also explain it.

One certain thing is that whenever an examiner gives you this instruction, the diagram you were asked to draw must be of a process, or have stages or phases such that it will need a written explanation to be understood by a layman.


Multiple choice examination questions defined simply are questions that allow you to choose your answer from a list of provided options. Do you remember them now? They’ve always been a part of examinations since nursery school. That might make you wonder “is there a perfect way or perfect method to and multiple-choice questions in the examination?” From our side, the answer is no but we do have methods to help you escape from tight situations.

So, let me introduce you to the ELIMINATION METHOD. this method is very simple and instinctive. It entails that you eliminate or ignore the options you are certain can not be the answer thus leaving you with a few options which can then be broken down and examined thoroughly to get the correct answer.

A more practical step is to CROSS or TICK the options that you are certain can not be the answer to so you can deal thoroughly with the ones left.

NOTE: To use this method efficiently, you must have enough knowledge or background of the topic the question is based on.

Another method is to LOOK FOR THE OPTION(S) WITH A HINT OF DIFFERENCE OR CONTRAST or simply ODD ONE OUT. This method works best for questions that you do not know.

To apply this method, try to examine each option carefully and think about their meanings; when you see an option that does not relate to the others, it has a high chance of being the answer or of not being the answer, therefore, use your discretion.

Now, let us treat a multiple choice question using the methods above. The question goes thus :


The lawmaker heckled the chairman of the panel during their last meeting
(a.) cheered up (b.) applauded (c.) shouted down (d.) restrained

First of all, look for the word with a hint of difference as many people are hearing the word ‘heckle’ for the first time. Due to the context of the question, we can see that ‘restrained’ stand out from the other options because it gives the impression of ‘physically’ withholding a person while the other options do not involve anything ‘physical’. Remember – “the context”, therefore, we eliminate option (d.)

Still looking for a hint of difference, we see that options (a.) and (b.) are positive words but option (c.) is a total contrast and thus has a very likely chance of being the answer, so, let’s choose option c.

On checking the dictionary for the meaning of the word heckle to confirm our answer, this is what we got :
Heckle,(verb): to interrupt a speaker at a public meeting by shouting out questions or rude remarks.
We got the questions correctly with the proper application of our methods.


Here, we have just one simple and practical that you might have known before. This step works for physics especially, also mathematics and chemistry, and any other calculation question or subject.

The step is to WRITE OUT THE PARAMETERS. parameters are the information supplied.
Parameters are the information or values supplied to us to work within a question.

NOTE: It is important to write out your parameters before trying to get a formula.

After writing your parameters, state your formulas (this might attract mark bonuses from some examiners). Then substitute the values into the formula and complete your calculation.
More importantly, before you begin any, calculation involving physical quantities, ensure that all quantities are in the same units and are in their S.I units ( for physics).
Let’s take a look at the physics question below to examine how the steps above make the calculation easier and prevent mistakes.

QUESTION: A body moving with an initial velocity of 108km/hr accelerates uniformly at a rate of 10m/s2 until it attains a velocity of 50m/s. What is the distance covered during this period?


Step 1 : write out the parameters
Initial velocity, u=108km/hr
Ki Acceleration, a=10m/s2
Final velocity, v=50m/s
Distance, s= ?
Step 2 : Perform all necessary conversions.
u=108km/hr= (108×3600)/1000
Step 3: Which of the following equations of motion fits the parameters above?
Is it:

  1.  v=u+at or
  2. S=ut + 1/2at2 or
  3. V2= u2 + 2as

As we can see, only the third equation has all the parameters we are given, this method helps to save time as we won’t have to do trial and error to get the correct equation.


  • If you have a choice, answer multiple-choice questions first. The advantages are obvious, they include :
  • It prepares your mind for the essay or theory questions
  • If you can answer this Part well, it boosts your confidence and gets you in a good mood to answer the theory questions confidently
  • You may find some answers to theory questions in multiple-choice questions, if not answers, you may find clues.
  • Examine your questions properly, there are some questions that you know will need proper explanation regardless of the instruction behind them. Some questions just need you to make your points in a statement form (full sentences), with no explanation.
  • In a multiple-choice examination, leave no questions unanswered, make sure you choose an option for all you don’t have an idea of. It might just be the correct answer.
  • For calculation questions, do your calculations step by step, most examiners award marks for this.
  • In 98% of examinations, you can answer in any order you wish. Most people jump at question number one when they may have other questions whose answers they can easily forget.
  • Start your examinations by answering the easiest questions first.

I hope you have a learned a lot from reading this post, make sure to apply the steps mentioned, now, go pass your answer exams with flying colors

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