If you were called up to your national team, for any type of sport, would you answer the call or ignore it?

Although I’ve been teaching Marketing Qualifications for over 5 years now I’d never been an examiner before, so when the opportunity arose, I wasn’t going to say no. Sorry Gareth I’m busy now.

I always wondered what it was like, how long it would take to mark assignments and what I would learn from the experience, would it be worth it?

The answers to all of these questions were;
– Rewarding
– A long time
– A great deal
– Yes, absolutely

But more importantly than any of these, it provided me with a valuable insight into what marking is all about, how it is done, what examiners look for and most excitingly, how I can now take what I have learnt into my teachings.

Here is what I have learnt so far, which I hope is of some use to anyone looking to sit a Marketing Examination:

1 – Making an exam easy to read is vitally important. The harder it is to read, the hard it is to mark and that isn’t good for anyone.

I am not just talking about the layout here, but the actual writing and if this is eligible to the examiner. Think about it from their point of view. If your writing looks like you were sneezing constantly while answering a question, some of the words and sentences may lose their meaning and the marks that should be attributed to it.

2 – Plan out your answer. Time is precious in an exam situation and goes quicker than you may think, but it is always worth planning an answer before hand. This will give it more structure and keep your answer on message.

If you don’t plan your answer it can become harder to follow and understand your trail of thought, what you were thinking and how you wanted your answer to be structured.

This can contribute to a negative view of your answer. If comprehension for the structure and layout are missing it can be much harder to see where marks can be gained.

3 – Lengthy introductions do you no good. Within a exam it is important to introduce your answer, providing context and relevance to the rest of your answer, but these very rarely gain marks as they are a preamble to the components that will gain marks.

It is the bread, oil and vinegar to the starter, main and dessert – It is a great accompaniment and can set you up for a great meal, but you wouldn’t rate a restaurant on this alone.

4 – No one wants to read a rambled exam paper that takes an age to get going and subsequently even longer to get to the main points that will ultimately gain marks.

This is why quality over quantity should always be considered.

Although you should be writing to the length of the marks that are apportioned to each question, this doesn’t mean a long drawn out answer is better than a succinct, shorter answer. On the contrary, an examiner would love nothing more than for every part of an answer to gain a mark and subsequently gain top marks in its totality.

After all, this would be quicker to mark and easier to understand and who doesn’t want that.

5 – Breaking an answer down into it’s individual component parts to make sure it has structure, then building it back up so that it reads well in its entirety is huge!

Yes you need all the building block for a great answer, but the holistic overview of what you have written can also gain marks. Don’t forget you are answering a specific question in its entirety, so making it flow, being succinct and comprehensive are both important in equal measures.

6 – A theory or memory dump will not gain marks, no matter how short on time you are. It may feel like the best option you have, but just listing what you were going to write is no substitute for the real thing. Your best option is to plan your timing accordingly. When that time is up, more onto the next question. The best way to understand this is to use the 80% rule:

It is easier to achieve the first 80% of a task than the last 20%. Focus on the first 80%, which should be the main body of your answer. The extra 20% should be the added bonuses – examples, theory, concepts, intro and summary – yes these will gain you the extra marks, but only in the right context, get the right context and the rest will follow.

Happy Exam Marketing