The first time I found out that I had a take home exam, I breathed a sigh of relief. I figured, how hard could it be, it’s just like a glorified essay. How naïve I was. Many consider a take home exam to be easier than a sit down exam, but in reality take home exams are very much underestimated.
What they don’t tell you is that sure, it will be like a mixture of an essay and problem solving question, but it will be epically longer and expected to be more detailed. So how do you handle take home exams?
Plan your mode of attack and make sure that you give yourself sufficient time. Spend a while researching and planning the exam answers, and allow plenty of writing time. If your take home exam runs for more than a day, make sure you also factor in some sleep time; it is so important to get sleep while working on something like this. Even if you have a 24-hour exam, be sure to get some kind of sleep. You’ll be more productive if you do, not to mention feel so much better.
Refer to case law and statute in your answers, but don’t forget that you have lots of other resources at your disposal. If you have time, try looking up journal articles and government department websites and incorporate these into your answers.
Plan an outline of the answer before you write it so that you know which points you want to address and where the answer is heading. Once you have finished writing your answer, read over it to correct any spelling/grammar mistakes and to ensure you have fully answered the question.
Also, back yourself up: save the document as you go, and maybe even back it up onto a USB or Dropbox. That way, even if your computer gives up on you, the hard work you’ve done won’t go to waste. Plus, there’s nothing more stressful than losing a colossal amount of work and needing to start again from scratch. Don’t do that to yourself.
As well as making sure you have plenty of time to actually complete the exam, make sure you have plenty of time to submit it. You never know when a storm, cyclone, natural disaster or other catastrophe may strike, so in case of a total power out, make sure you still have enough time to either make contact with your lecturer or get to your local McDonalds to use their wi-fi. Most importantly of all, make sure you get the submission date and time right!
On the plus side, the thing I love most about take home exams is that you can stay in PJs all day. Although a take home exam may seem like Everest, the key to acing it is organisation. Take it one bit at a time, and you’ll be done before you know it. Good luck!
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