Regardless of what exam you are preparing for, there's going to be a time when you need to answer a question. Deciding what to write or say can often be the toughest part.
Many students minds just go blank.
If you have had this experience, you are not alone.
This is particularly hard for younger candidates who have not had much life experience and therefore have not encountered or considered the issues presented.
Imagine you are a teenager and you are faced with a question like this:
... Online shopping is significantly increasing. What effects does this have on the environment and the types of jobs required?
Even a 25 year old might find this a complex and challenging question.
Not only are questions difficult, but sometimes they are just plain weird. For instance, when was the last time you thought about this:
... What kind of accommodation do you wish to have in the future?
I don't know about you, but this is certainly not a question that I've asked myself recently.
So, what can you do to avoid having these kinds of exam nightmares?
I regularly suggest the following approach to my exam students:
It's like brainstorming, but with just one person - you!
Whether it's a speaking question or an essay question it doesn't matter - the process is the same.
1. Read the question
2. Make sure you understand it fully
3. Quickly write down or think of as many different kinds of responses that you can to the question
4. If you cannot think of anything, look up the question using Baba Google. Simply enter the exam name and the first few words of the question. For example:
... ielts Some people believe that entertainers are paid too much
This will produce a list of sample answers that you can look at. You can see what other people wrote about and decide if you can use these same ideas.
5. Then move onto another question and repeat the process.
Notice there is no essay writing nor speaking required. Hence, you're saving a lot of time and just focusing on working your idea generation muscle.
Using this technique means that when you are sitting the exam you will have seen a number of different questions and worked on and improved your brainstorming technique. In this way, each new question is a little easier than the ones before. In the end, you'll quickly come up with something and the chance of there being a scary question will be significantly reduced.