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6 Last-minute exam tips for PE

By Simon Hennessy on 22 October 2019NSWblogPDHPEStudy tipsExam advice

With your PE exam right around the corner, no doubt you’re deep in exam study mode, and looking for any tips and tricks to make these next few days a little more breezy. We’ve asked around our PE team, and they’ve put together 6 tips to help you navigate your way to a top mark in your upcoming PE exam

1. Stick to your pre-learned topics in Section II

The chances are you have spent the year preparing inside and outside of class for two specific topics for Section II and in the actual exam is no time for a last-minute change of plan.

Every year, the temptation is the same. “Well I studied The Health of Young People but the Sports Medicine questions look easier, so maybe I’ll try those ones instead ...” Avoiding this temptation is always the right move. No matter how easy the questions look, without having studied exactly what is demanded by Sports Medicine questions and without having done any past paper examples of those sepcific questions. you will be less equipped to deal with them than even the hardest questions in your prepared topics.

2. Answer two questions in Section II – no more

Another easy trap to fall into in Section II is the “cover all bases” approach. You’re only asked to answer two questions out of five in this section, but plenty of students think that answering three or more increases their odds of having two top answers.

If you’re thinking of doing this, don’t. Firstly, Section II recommends spending 70 minutes on two questions, so your marker will be expecting two answers that clearly reflect 35 minutes of careful work, not three 23 minute or four 17 minute efforts. Secondly, even if the question in an area you haven’t studied looks easy, you won’t know the specific content and therefore won’t be able to get full marks.

Even if you find the questions in your two pre-prepared topics to be especially tricky, giving them plenty of time and attention will give you the best chance of crafting two impressive answers.

3. Break down each question

There can be a temptation in your exam to just dive into answering each question without doing any deeper thinking or planning. This approach can lead to rushed responses that end up missing crucial information. Taking some time to break down exactly what the question is asking and having a strategy in your head about how you’re going to structure your answer can make a big difference in the end result.

The first step in approaching the question, as we’ve said before on the blog is to first identify the verb being used in the question, which gives you an idea of how you need to answer the questions. Making clear attempts to answer the question, and showing the markers that you understand the meaning of the verb being used throughout your answer will ensure you’re properly answering the question and will already push your answer up towards the higher bands. The rest of the answer should focus on the syllabus content and drawing on your knowledge of the topics being asked about.

Identifying these two aspects and reacting accordingly gives you the best chance of hitting all the relevant criteria for full marks.

4. Don’t forget examples

Examples are the name of the game in PE. Usually, questions will specifically ask you to include examples but even if they don’t, making sure you include some examples wherever you can is the right approach.

A well-chosen example not only demonstrates your ability to provide adequate support for the point you are making in your response, but it also gives you the opportunity to show off just how wide-ranging your knowledge is on the question’s particular area of interest. It also shows that you not only memorised the syllabus but actually learnt how to apply the knowledge in a practical way.

5. Complete the paper in order

If you’ve got a particularly strong reason for following a different order and it works, then don’t break from your tried and trusted routine. That said, in general, answering the questions in the order they are asked is what we recommend, and this is because it has a couple of useful benefits:

  • Time: Getting your multiple-choice and short answer questions from Section I out of the way frees up more time to focus completely on the longer Section II questions without the stress of having to return to them later hanging over you;
  • Knowledge building: Questions in the first few sections of the paper might contain really helpful information for the longer, extended response style questions. Multiple Choice questions, for example, might trigger your memory about a topic that you just decided to include in a short answer response. Win!

6. Underline the most relevant parts of your answer

This one is not an absolute must, but if you find you have time to spare in the exam, it’s a handy little move that just makes the life of the marker a whole lot easier, which in turn benefits you.

While it will not have a massively transformative effect on how well your answer will do, underlining or highlighting the parts of your answer that most directly answer the question makes it that bit easier for your marker to identify the specific parts of the response where they can give you marks.


While the most important thing you’ll bring to your PE exam is the knowledge and skills you’ve built up throughout the year, and refined whilst studying, these tips might just be your saving grace on the day and will hopefully give you that extra edge that’ll push your marks into the higher bands. Good luck!

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