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Time management in your Objective Test exams

This article aims to provide guidance on how best to use your time in the Objective Test (OT) examinations. It will be useful to view any of the OT Practice Exams, when considering the content of this article.

Overview of the OT Exam

In any OT Exam, you will get 60 questions and be allowed 90 minutes in which to answer them. This means roughly 90 seconds per question but some questions will require more or less reading/consideration than others; this balances out over the course of the test. The questions are presented uniquely to each student as they are selected and ordered using some randomisation. One candidate’s exam may start with a short multiple choice question while another candidate’s exam for the same subject may start with a sequence of three or four number entry questions from shared data.

Question Types

A range of question styles (e.g. drag-and-drop, hot-spot, multiple answer, multiple choice, number entry) will be used to assess your knowledge and competence of the entire syllabus (all the component learning outcomes). All questions earn equal marks, but the time you may spend on each question may vary based on question type explained below. For effective use of time during the OT Exam, all OT questions can be grouped into one of the four categories below, depending on your personal preferences and strengths and weaknesses:

  1. Short questions where you feel confident about the content, therefore quick to answer
  2. Longer questions where you feel confident about the approach required
  3. Short questions where you are less confident and will need to give more consideration / thought / workings
  4. Longer questions, with more complex data where you need to consider the approach required to answer the question

With pre-exam practice, you should learn to identify the category into which each question falls.

OT exam tools

An OT exam has two features which are particularly helpful to time management:

“Next” button “Flag for Review” button Next – button in bottom right hand corner of the screen
When you click the “Next” button, the test will move you on to the next question whether or not you have completed the question currently on show.

If you have not completed your answer to the question, it will be recorded as “incomplete” for later review. “Incomplete” status may reflect a question with no response at all or one where the answer is only partially complete, such as a multiple response question.

Flag for Review – button in top right, underneath the countdown timer
If this button is clicked, the icon turns yellow and at the end of the exam, you will be notified that you have flagged this question for review. The flag will not alter your answer and if the exam ends with flags remaining on questions, those answers will be submitted in their current state. 

Flags should be used sparingly; for questions where you’ve worked out an answer but would like a second chance to review it if time allows.

Recommended Approach

We recommend the following approach to answering questions:

First Take about 10 to 15 minutes to click “Next” through all 60 items, identifying and answering the questions in category 1 above (Question Types) i.e. short questions that can be answered quickly and confidently. These include brief ‘knowledge’ and ‘definition’ multiple choice questions where the correct answer is identified immediately without the need for re-reading of the stem or the options.

At the end of the first run-through, you may have answered 10 to 15 questions with confidence. This confidence will allow you to relax a little and approach the remaining questions more calmly.
Second Use the function “Review Incomplete Items” in the review screen

Identify questions from category 2 i.e. those where you know the approach to answering and also know that you would prefer to have less time pressure in answering. Such questions would include those requiring analysis of a short scenario / set of data or calculations where you know what those calculations need to be.

Depending on the subject being examined, this could get you up to another 20 to 30 questions complete in around next 30 to 40 minutes.
Third Use the function “Review Incomplete Items” again, this time tackling the questions in categories 3 and 4 i.e. those where you know that you have to think in more detail about the options or workings.

Do not spend too long on any one question (a maximum of 3 minutes). If you think you need more time to review a question, submit your “best” answer and click the “Flag” button so that you can review the question in any time remaining after all questions have been attempted.
Fourth Use any remaining time to review flagged questions, making sure that you consider the options or calculations carefully.

There may be a few questions based on same data, and that case all such questions will be one after the other. Do all such questions in one go so that you may maintain the flow of thoughts and save time from reading the question again and again.

Review Screen

This is an important feature to use when you have clicked through all the questions. Once you have clicked “Next” on the sixtieth question, regardless of whether you have completed all questions, the exam takes you to a review screen which lists the status of all 60 questions.

  • Complete: there is no mark on the review screen against questions you have completed
  • Incomplete: questions for which you have submitted no answer or a partially complete answer. This provides a safety net. If you accidentally click two options when the question has asked for THREE, the review screen identifies the omission for you.
  • Flagged: the questions which you have consciously flagged for review.

The review screen is the first time you will have the option to “End the Exam”. If you choose to end the exam, a warning screen will pop up asking you (twice) to confirm. If you have any incomplete questions, the pop up will alert you to this, telling you how many such items there are.

Note: It will not mention any flagged items. 

When you are at the review screen, you are given the option to:

  • Select an individual question for review
  • Review all 60 questions in sequence
  • Review only the incomplete questions in sequence
  • Review only the flagged items

AT THE END of the OT Exam

After 85 minutes, a window will pop up to alert you that there are 5 minutes remaining. You are strongly advised during this time to return to the review screen; click “Review Incomplete Items” and ensure that an answer is submitted for every question. 

In any remaining time, review any questions which remain flagged.

At the end of the 90 minutes available, the exam will close down. All complete answers, including those which have been flagged will be recorded for scoring. Any which are incomplete will earn no marks.