Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Correct way of writing answers in answer sheet.

It is becoming noticeable in the scripts that there is a significant number of candidates who are answering the questions in any order and even split up individual questions, answering the first part in one part of the paper and the other parts somewhere else. The candidates concerned are invariably weaker candidates who should benefit from the flow through the paper (particularly where the questions are linked by the scenario) and particularly from one part of a question to the next.


There are candidates exhibiting a problem with time management and that the final responses are either rushed or in a few cases were not presented. These cases are normally accompanied by other responses in the easier parts of the paper which were far too long and covered much material which was not to the point. Candidates must be aware of the need to manage their time sensibly in the examination.

More common is the attitude prevalent among some candidates that the question has not quite been worded correctly, so the candidate decides to reword it in the way that they think it should have been worded. This obviously leads to the wrong question being answered and the chance of earning marks being minimized.

Many candidates do this through a sort of Pavlovian reaction to words in the question where they see a word and then write an answer based on that word rather than on the question. Suppose in a question there was an extreme example, where the question said ‘…peripheral devices…’ which lead many candidates to write about keyboard, mouse and monitor as their first three, when the question went on to say ‘…apart from keyboard, mouse and monitor.’ The candidate has seen the term ‘peripheral devices’ and simply writes down what they know about peripheral devices. The worst case of rewording questions to their own liking was the candidate who wrote down the question before supplying the answers. This is quite common among candidates and is usually no more than a waste of the candidate’s time. However, sometimes there are candidates who combined these faults and actually write down their versions of the questions before answering them!

There is evidence of some of the more erudite candidates giving too much information and talking themselves out of marks. A good example is in question when a candidate says “RAM is volatile, this means that the contents are not lost when the power is switched off”. This candidate has offered more information than was necessary for the mark and in doing so has slipped the word ‘not’ in where it should not be. They have successfully ‘talked’ the Examiner out of giving the mark. This is happening on a regular basis throughout the paper and candidates are advised that once they have said something they should not elaborate where it is not needed.

In CIE training workshops, with experiences and after interviewing above-average students I found out that the only criteria that can stand you out in CIE finals is "ANSWERING IN BULLET POINTS" rather than in essay form.
This practice is in total contradiction of answering techniques in other
subjects, so care should be taken and technique must not be applied to any
subject other than the Computing 9691.
So I suggest you all to practice past papers by writing your answers in bullet form. Now how many bullets per questions and what should be the format of it? To answer such questions I laid down following points:
  1. Number of bullets per question should not exceed the total marks of the question.
  2. All bullets must be different from other bullets in same answer.
  3. Bullets' format may be made same as Marking Schemes, BUT bullets given in marking schemes are sometimes too brief so care should be taken to keep your bullet sane and meaningful.
  4. For the quality of answers Examiner reports should be observed and common mistakes by students attempting exams must be kept in mind while answering.
Lastly, space given in number of lines is enough expected for a question's answer from a candidate. In few cases when candidate think that they need more space, they can ask for and use extra sheets or may utilize blank space at the end of given booklet. However, in both cases, the candidate needs to make it very clear in the available answer space for the question that there is more and state which page number it is on. Otherwise it may not get marked. This practice is mostly discouraged as the given answer space is already properly thought from examiners.



Computing 9691 Past Papers, Marking Schemes and Examiner reports can be downloaded from this link.

Good Luck!

O, AS & A Level Computers FREE Resources By: Zafar Ali Khan
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