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Paper 1 - Taking the BGCSE Examination

Paper 1 comprises two sections:

Objective type questions and short-answer questions. Before attempting any questions, quickly read over the paper in order to determine which section is likely to be your strongest and begin there. Remember there is no rule as to the order you choose to complete questions in. Carefully read the instructions and begin.

Answering Multiple Choice questions:

If you don’t know the answer out right, eliminate the ones you know are not the correct answer. Having done that, if more than one option remains, select the one for which you can make the strongest justification. If you are still unable to select a ‘right’ answer, then move on and come back to it. Often you will discover clues, be reminded of concepts, or be able to identify certain linkages based on other questions throughout the test. If all else fails, and there’s no penalty for incorrect answers, then using your best judgment, simply choose one. Never leave a multiple-choice question unanswered.

Completing “Matching” questions:

Go down the list and first match the ones you are confident you know, then separate the remainder according to those concepts you have a general recollection of, versus those you might be far more vague, even lost on. Concentrating on one column of choices only, for those you have a general understanding on, for each jot down on a separate sheet of paper, the names of related concepts and theories. Do the same for the opposite column, and match according those that have more linkages in common. For any remaining unmatched, if you don’t pick up related clues etc. throughout the course of your completion of other questions in the paper, then using your best frame of reasoning, match them without changing matches to questions you were already comfortable with, remembering not to leave any questions unanswered.

Answering True/False questions:

For the questions you’re unsure of, keep in mind that even if you are not able to prove that a particular statement or derivation is true, it may be easier to show how it is untrue. How you approach a question is a key determinant in how successful you are in answering it, and oftentimes proving something correct versus proving it wrong requires a different mindset. If neither method proves fruitful, and you’re unable to identify any clues or linkages based on other questions and responses, still select one or the other. Provided there is no penalty for an incorrect answer, never leave a true/false question unanswered.

Completing Short-Answer questions:

Based on instructions given, select and attempt questions in order of those you feel strongest on. First, whether on a scrap piece of paper or (if allowed) somewhere on the test paper itself, jot down all of the concepts you understand to be related to the question asked, then number them according to how best to build a complete answer. Starting with the first and working your way down, be concise and as best as you can clearly establish how one links to the other. Students sometimes make the mistake of not giving complete answers as they sometimes take certain pieces of information for granted as being “obvious” and often end up leaving out important details. Remember, examinations are intended to evaluate how much test takers know about a subject, and how good a handle they have on the material, so if it’s relevant and it supports your response, don’t leave it out.

Finally, always be aware of your time. Don’t spend too much time on one question. If you are having difficulty on a particular question and it doesn’t seem to be getting any clearer, move on and come back to it. One way to gauge your time, is to evaluate the amount of time you should devote to questions based on how much marks they’re worth. Questions worth more marks than others are normally the ones the examiners expect will take a bit longer to complete than those of lesser marks. Then before handing in your paper to invigilators, ensure that whatever identification is required is clearly marked on every relevant page.

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