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Key Study Skills

Answering essay questions in exams

Answering case study questions

Exam questions that ask you to anlayse case studies (also called scenarios) are usually designed to test your ability to relate theories and concepts to real-world situations.

Preparing for case studies before the exam:

  • Start by identifying the theories and concepts covered in your course.  Organise and review the information you have on these theories/concepts so you understand them.
  • Practice reading case studies and identifying relevant information. It's probably useful to practice doing this with a time limit as you will have one in your exam.
  • Practice relating concepts and theories to real-world situations: ask lecturers and check textbooks for practice examples. It is also worth checking past exams for your course to see if there are examples of case study questions.

During the exam

  • Take time to plan: Have a clear idea of how much time you have to answer the question. Then plan to spend some time reading the exam question, the case study and planning your answer.
    Take time to make sure you have understood the case study and know what the exam question is asking you to do:
  • Read the exam question(s)
  • Then skim read the case study to get the general idea. Highlight or underline key points
  • Reread the question to make sure you understand it and to focus your attention when you reread the case study.
  • Reread the case study carefully. Make a note of any ideas that you think of.
  • Answer the question linking relevant theories and concepts to specific information from the case study. Usually you will need to write your answers in clearly formed paragraphs which have a clear topic that is well-supported with evidence and examples.
  • Instead of simply describing or restating information from the case itself, use specific details or examples to support the points you are trying to make. This is where you link theory to the facts from the case study.