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5 tips to pass any difficult exam

Examination times can be periods of unease. Anxiety may take over the brain – leaving you in fears of failure – instead of in actions to passing the exam. This happens most in exams dubbed difficult.

Difficult exams are those exams that many people have reportedly failed – due to inadequate preparations. Or because the examiners required them to do more than they did in responding to the questions.

In this article, I am going to share 5 tips that can help you prepare adequately for that difficult exam. They are given as 5 U’s to passing any exam. And they are:

  1. Understand the exam
  2. Understand the requirements
  3. Understand why you need to pass the exam
  4. Understand yourself
  5. Understand the questions

Let’s now briefly talk about the above 5 U’s.

Understand the exam

Here, you have to understand what the exam is all about. Why did the examiners put up the exam? What is the exam for? Try putting these two questions in your own words – and answering them. Once you answer this question, your attention would naturally shift from Oh, no! This difficult exam! to What do they (the examiners) expect me to do in this exam?

To understand an exam, you may need to check out the origin. Exams you don’t understand how they came about would always appear strange and difficult.

Understand the requirements

Each exam is designed to prove those taking it right or wrong, fit or unfit, qualified or unqualified. To arrive at this judgement, the examiners set parameters.

From the parameters, they prepare the guide (the mark scheme). And, yes again, around this they build expectations from those taking the exams. There are strengths expected of them to demonstrate. There are things expected of them to do. Find out the traits the exam measures. Some are purely cognitive while some measure other skills. 

Understand why you need to pass the exam

Now, let’s talk about what’s at stake. Why are you required to sit the exam? Why do you really have to pass it? Spend your time thinking about this, not about the people that have failed it before or how the questions are unpredictable.

Is the exam important? Is it part of your promotion requirements? Wouldn’t the promotion worth the extra efforts put at passing this all-important exam? Expend your energy on the positive lane. Focus on the great things that will happen to your grade or level, after you must have passed the exam.

Understand yourself

And we really need to talk about this. You aren’t anyone else. Prepare for this exam the way it will work for you. Those who have failed it aren’t you. Those who have passed it are humans too.

So, how best do you prepare for an important exam? Do you study and understand better at midnight or early in the morning or in the day? What really motivates you to push forward and succeed? This is a good time to deploy them.

Do you learn best by seeing pictures? YouTube may have some video helps. Or you’re just good at forming your own pictures in your head by reading texts? You just have to understand yourself and be just that.

When an important task comes knocking at the door of your heart, the strength on the inside of you should be asked to go check who the challenger is. This can’t help if you don’t believe in yourself. So, begin with this. Work hard until you can trust yourself.

Understand the questions

This last point is the most important. I reserved it till the end so it stays fresh in your memory. If the time is there, it’s better to spend 10 minutes brainstorming on a question and answering it in 5 minutes, than hastily responding to it in 15 minutes – going off-the-point. What is the question? Can you paraphrase it? Is the paraphrase a really simple way of putting the question? Yes? Great then!

If you don’t understand the question, break the components into clauses or phrases. Look for the keyword in that question. Then, look for the clauses or auxiliaries giving more clues on what you’re really expected to do. Ensure you do exactly what the question says you should do.


No exam is too difficult to pass. I would like to get your thoughts in the comments section.

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