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4 Must-Know Exam Smart Strategies for your 'O' Levels!

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Even as COVID continues to be a real threat in 2020, the time for the much dreaded 'O' Levels exams has come around again - albeit with increased safety measures.

However, if you have followed OVERMUGGED’s self-study Physics and Chemistry guides to prepare, you are probably already 90% there!

So, what is the remaining 10%?

That is what I will be sharing here today – 4 effective exam strategies you can use during the exam to maximize your scores for your O levels!


1) Time Management

I cannot emphasize on this enough. Keeping track of time and allocating sufficient time to each section of the paper is critical to maximizing your scores!

After all, you cannot get any marks for questions that are left unanswered or MCQ questions that are left unshaded right?

How to make sure you manage your time well during your O Levels paper?

· Divide your time up wisely – Depending on how many marks each section has, divide the time you spend on it accordingly. Trust me you do not want to spend too much time on the MCQs and realize you have barely any time left to answer the open-ended sections which give you more marks

· Skip ahead if too difficult – Hard questions can frustrate and keep you struggling for an unproportionate amount of time. Exam smart students do not waste time. Simply circle the question, fold the corner of the page, and skip ahead to come back later.

A good indication to note if you are on track: At the half time mark of the paper, you should be done with at least half of the paper. If you are not, make sure you speed up!

I always say this,

"Score the 80% that you are confident in & secure that B3 safety net. Next, use the remaining time to try & get the remaining 20% to get your A1."

2) Use the Process of Elimination

If you somehow get stumped at an MCQ question, not to worry. There is still a chance you can get the mark – by using the process of elimination.

There are only 4 options, so if you eliminate the two most unlikely answers, you immediately narrow your chances from 25% to 50%.

Also, look out for clues in options provided. Sometimes, you can actually work the question backwards using the provided options in the MCQ! Eliminate answers that don't make much sense!

May the odds be in your favor!


3) Answering with Keywords

To make sure you get the marks for the question you have to answer to what the question is asking for.

Simple steps to follow:

· Identity what topic the question is testing on

· Use the relevant keywords or formulas for that particular topic when answering

· Answer with as little or much detail depending on how many marks the question is worth

Think from the perspective of a Cambridge marker & write your answers in a way that makes it easy for them to give you the mark.

If its a one mark question, give the answer straight, don't beat around the bush.

If it is a three marks questions, make sure you include the formula, your working or use keywords in your answers!


4. Check Your Answers

Once you finish the paper you may tend to get a sense of relief and let down your guard. However, there is not a minute to be wasted.

Key areas to review:

· MCQ – Check if your shaded answers are answering to the correct questions.

· Formula – Make sure formulas used are accurate and workings do not have careless mistakes

· Units – Make sure all the open-ended question answers that have calculations are answered with the right units

"Any extra time should be the time for you to check your answers." #check&checkagain

For MCQ Paper 1, I normally advise completing the paper in 50 minutes & having 10 mins to check through. (ensure everything is shaded accurately on your OAS)

For Section A & B Paper 2, I suggest spending 1.5 hour to complete the paper & leaving yourself 15 minutes to check your answers.


'O' levels will not be a walk in the park! But as a prepared student, you should go into the battlefield with a strategy and be smart about how you approach the exam!

I wish you all the best and feel free to use all the free learning resources available on this website to make your learning more effective and productive!

If you wish to supercharge your revision progress, do consider getting a copy of our (must-have) curated notes!

The curated notes are designed and curated precisely to the ‘O’ levels syllabus & helps break down difficult key concepts.

It compiles all the necessary knowledge you will need, furnished with tips and pointers to make your learning even more effective and efficient!

If you are feeling stressed out before your 'O' Levels, do read our article on 'How to manage your stress level'!

OVERMUGGED wishes everyone good luck and may the bell curve be ever in your favour!

Brought to you by OVERMUGGED.

By Tutors, For Students

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