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Examiners don’t care what you ‘believe’ - how to write a better assignment or exam

by: (Director ICT Academic Faculty) on

Some people believe in Fairies. Some people believe we are secretly ruled by Alien Lizard Overlords. You may hold these beliefs passionately (rightly or wrongly). However the examiners marking your assignment or exam paper don’t really care what you believe.

Instead they are looking for 3 simple things:

  1. Can you express yourself coherently?
  2. Can you demonstrate critical reasoning and technical accuracy?
  3. Can you support your reasoning with evidence from credible and well researched sources?

So some simple tips to remember in exams or assignments:

Avoid Subjective Language:

Overly subjective language such as “I believe” and “I feel” come across as less professional and may weaken the impact of your paper. The examiner will be looking for logical reasoned arguments, not emotions!

Don’t Say Things Like:

"I believe senior management must be fully engaged in AML, in many cases failures in this regard has resulted a systemic breakdown of AML controls in a firm. Regulators have often taken action in response to this type of failing and the “tone from the top” is of critical importance."

Do Say Things Like:

"Senior management have an essential role in AML and must be engaged in setting the tone from the top. Several recent examples of regulatory enforcement actions have demonstrated the impact of a lack of effective engagement at the highest levels of firms. The UK FCA Enforcement action against ABC Ltd in 2014 demonstrated the importance of senior management buy in to AML. This case highlighted a lack of senior management understanding of AML risk along with an ineffective escalation process for high risk AML issues. In addition the FCA indicated that a lack of an appropriate tone from the top contributed to relationship managers entering into unacceptably high risk business relationships."

Use Examples (And Referencing)

Remember, be specific. Use evidence and case studies to support your arguments. This means plenty of footnotes and a bibliography (or informal referencing in an exam in the body of your answer). But don’t forget to articulate why the case study is relevant. What does this case actually tell us and why is it important?

Use Your Own Insights

Articulate your arguments and reasoning, demonstrate critical thought. You can also refer to your own professional experiences and use hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate a point. Remember though as a general rule don’t identify yourself or your organisation. Remember, to the examiner you are an anonymous number!

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