How to Write Your Exam Papers (TIPS)


Hey everyone! You may recall me promising that I would be posting tips on how to write your answers well. Anyway, here they are:

1. Keep your answers left justified. Don’t leave an inch of space next to the the left margin and then begin writing your answers.

2. Write in points as much as you can, except in English papers. Don’t write a whole paragraph explaining something that either does not need explaining, or that has not even been asked.

3. Read the question very carefully. Re-read the question. Ask yourself what the question is asking. If you know the answer, then write it. If you’re confused, try your best to make sense of what the question may be asking. If you can’t, then use your brains and make a smart guess.

4. Don’t leave any question. Don’t skip any question. Don’t leave the space blank. Examiners are always looking for technical terms or points where they may be able to give you marks. They aren’t always there to eat your heads off! Even if you don’t know the correct answer, make a guess. There is no negative marking so you have nothing to lose.

5. Check your answer sheet. Check it twice. If you have the time, check it thrice. While checking, don’t look at your answers and try to answer the questions again in your mind. Tally your answer script answers with those you just thought of and see whether they are the same or not. If not, make up your mind as to which one is the correct answer.

6. Don’t rush. You will have plenty of time to finish the paper. Don’t be in such a hurry that you overlook any sub-question or forget to write a step. You will lose marks and we don’t want that! Be calm and focused.

7. Don’t panic. You can’t always know everything (though, that’s not at all impossible). You may find that there is a question whose answer you don’t know. At times like those, don’t panic or be afraid. Think wisely and remain calm.

8. Use a black ball pen if you can. They are the best. They don’t leak and they rarely leave an impression on the back of the paper. The black ink will be more pleasing to the examiner’s eye. We want the examiner to be in a good mood while checking our paper. ๐Ÿ˜‰

9. Make sure your words are properly spaced out. Don’t squeeze in ten words in the same line! Your paper should look neat and clean and for that, your sentences shouldn’t be all bunched together.

10. Leave at least 2 to 3 lines before and after each question or sub-question. This is a precautionary measure so that if, later on, you feel you want to add something to your answer, you can easily do so, without making a mess of your answer script.

11. Number your questions correctly! Number them only and exactly as per the numbering given on the question paper. Don’t write Q1(a) instead of Q1(i).

12. Before you number your questions correctly, you must first remember to actually number them! The examiner won’t check your answer if the question number hasn’t been mentioned. Or if the incorrect question number is written, you will most likelyย lose marks.

13. Always draw a margin on the right side of the paper for your math examination. Always show your rough work in this margin, no matter how insignificant you may think it is. And remember to show the rough work for a question on the same page as your answer for that question.

14. While drawing diagrams, you must always use a pencil! Label your diagrams even if you have not been asked to. There’s no harm in staying on the safe side. Label the diagrams clearly and with legible handwriting. If your handwriting isn’t that good, you may want to label your diagrams in uppercase letters.

15. Always write your full name, index number, and if possible, date, on any supplementary sheets that you will have to attach to your answer script. For example, maps, graph papers, etc.

Students always keep forgetting the above tips and this is just to remind you once again of what has to be done.

There are many more tips to come… Keep visiting! ๐Ÿ™‚

Update 02/03/14: Please visitย Tip of the Day #8ย for more tips.


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This work by Helpline for ICSE Students (Class X – Class 10) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


224 thoughts on “How to Write Your Exam Papers (TIPS)

    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Sonal,

      No, you don’t have to answer questions in the order that they have been given. Attempt that question first to which you are confident that you know the answer.

      Hope this helped! Thanks for stopping by. Good luck for your exams!


  1. Lola says:

    Hey Helpline,
    This certainly is a very helpful site for many ICSE students as you can see, since ICSE isn’t exactly the easiest of curriculums. I would really like thank you for such helpful content, has helped me improve greatly.

    One suggestion or request I’d like to make – can you please upload more notes for Geography, Biology etc. These subjects don’t have much notes, only four to five chapters are provided. If this is possible it will be of tremendous help!

    Thank you ICSE Helpline.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi there,

      Thank you for the kind words and positive feedback. We truly appreciate it! We shall look into the same for the coming batch, as we are now, dependent on our readers for contribution of notes and it is difficult to get access to notes on short notice. Thank you for the suggestions. Keep visiting, and good luck for your exams! ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Aditi says:

    Sir, I have drawn a margin on both left hand and right hand side of the answer script. I have written the correct question numbers in the left hand margin drawn by me adjacent to the given left hand margin in the answer script. I am a little worried whether this will be applicable or not. Kindly guide me.


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi there,

      In our opinion, this should not matter in the least. So, we’d suggest that you not worry about the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for visiting, and good luck for the rest of your exams. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Moulik,

      We would hope not. Hopefully, the topic is discernible from the letter that you have written and the examiners won’t be so cruel as to cut marks for the same. All the same, take care in future papers, and do not worry of what has already happened.

      Good luck for the rest of your exams! You’ll do great. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Dhiren,

      Please specify what kind of problems you are facing. In which subjects are you scoring less? You may also talk to your teachers and ask them where you can improve.


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Snehil,

      Thanks for visiting the blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It is always advisable to mention the scale on any graph. However, we shall look into the present syllabus and let you know soon, as we are not currently aware of any such changes having been made.


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Smit,

      Do you mean to say if you can strike out an answer and then rewrite it, or do you mean striking out words while writing an essay, etc.? As far as I know, it’s ok to strike out words with a single line through the middle, but don’t try to scribble out or darken the entire word. If you have to strike out a word, keep it neat. Also, don’t use white-out.

      Hope this helps. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for stopping by, and keep visiting!


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi there!

      We made your question open to teachers of ICSE and here’s what they have to say:

      The bottom line from their responses and from what our teachers recommended during our tenth grade is that gel pens make handwriting more legible, whereas ballpoints are preferred as they are said to be waterproof. The color depends on you.

      Hope this helps! If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for visiting! Stay connected. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi there,

      As far as we know, examiners want your handwriting to be legible, whether or not you write in cursive or in print. So, yes, cursive is absolutely fine as long as you are able to write neatly and legibly.

      Hope this helped! If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for stopping by, and keep visiting. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Shreyash says:

    Hey can you please tell me if it is necessary to write the section name (i.e Section 1,Section 2)in biology icse board examination and if yes how many marks shall be deducted for not writing the Section name


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Shreyash,

      Yes, you do have to mention the section number or letter, as given in the question paper, in your answer sheet for all subjects’ exams. However, we are not aware about the number of marks that may be deducted if you fail to do so. We shall ask teachers of ICSE and update you if we receive an answer!

      Hope this helped! If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Keep visiting! ๐Ÿ™‚


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