Why being long-winded may be hurting your exam scores

I was at a meeting recently with a gentleman who liked the sound of his own voice.  I had no problem with him regaling me with his issues, but it was one of those situations where he used 3000 words when 30 would have done the trick.  He spent more than 45 minutes explaining something that would have taken me less than ten.

Towards the end of the meeting, I was finding it hard to hide my impatience and frustration.  In my head, all I could think was ‘land the plane! Land the plane!”  Basically, I just wanted him to get to the point, which eventually to my great relief – he did.

I’ve been an assessor/examiner for CIPS since 2009 and I experience the same frustration with some students’ exam scripts.  There are plenty of occasions where I can tell the student understands the concept, but they have gone off on a tangent with an example about their organisation and gone into so much detail that the example has run on for more than a page.  

An example is meant to add to your answer, to showcase your argument.  It’s not meant to be the answer.  Students will jump into a question without planning and want to show how they understand it.  The problem though is that they make a statement, such as outsourcing leads to cost savings, then rush into an example of what happened at their work with outsourcing.  Remember you need to explain the statement you are making before you rush to the example.

The example should ideally be brief and to the point, a few sentences long, before you move on to the next point that you are making.  Examples should not take up two or three paragraphs or run over a page.  If you are doing this then usually you will not be addressing the full question, and you may run out of time, as every point you make should try to be linked back to an example.

Remember to land the plane – get to the point! Not too concise so that you are not answering the question, but not just a giant waffle of an example.  This is a totally inexact science, but if the question is 25 marks, and you are making five points (attracting five marks each) then you need at least 5 sentences in each point you are making.  This covers one paragraph with a statement, explanation, and example.

If you would like more help with your CR exams, we have a free download to help you master them here: subscribepage.io/cips-training

Level 3 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M3
6
15th Jan, 29th Jan, 5th Feb, 19th Feb, 26th Feb, 4th Mar
May 2024
M4
3
15th Apr, 22nd Apr, 29th Apr
July 2024
M5
3
3rd June, 10th June, 24th June
Nov 2024
M1
3
7th Oct, 21st Oct, 4th November
Mar 2025
M2&M3
6
13th Jan, 20th Jan, 27th Jan, 10th Feb, 24th Feb, 3rd March
May 2025
M4
3
7th Apr, 14th Apr, 28th Apr
July 2025
M5
3
2nd June, 16th June, 30th June

Level 6 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M5
5
25th Jan, 1st Feb, 8th Feb, 22nd Feb, 29th Feb
May 2024
M4 & M7
4
18th April, 25th April, 2nd May, 9th May
July 2024
M3 & M8
5
30th May, 20th June, 27th June, 4th July, 11th July
November 2024
M1
3
10th Oct, 24th Oct, 7th Nov
Mar 2025
M2 & M5
5
30th Jan, 6th Feb, 13th Feb, 27th Feb, 6th Mar
May 2025
M4 & M7
4
3rd April, 10th April, 1st May, 8th May
July 2025
M3 & M8
5
5th June, 12th June, 19th June, 26th June, 3rd July

Level 5 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M5, M15 & M9
4
31st Jan, 7th Feb, 21st Feb, 28th Feb, 6th March
May 2024
M3 & M8
4
10th April, 17th April, 24th April, 1st May
July 2024
M4
3
5th June, 11th June, 26th June
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
9th Oct, 16th Oct, 23rd Oct, 30th Oct, 6th Nov
Mar 2025
M15, M5, M9
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M3 & M8
4
9th April, 16th April, 30th April, 7th June
July 2025
M4
3
4th June, 18th June, 2nd July

Level 4 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M3, M5, M7
6
23rd Jan, 30th Jan, 6th Feb, 20th Feb, 27th Feb, 5th March
May 2024
M4 & M6
4
9th April, 16th April, 23rd April, 30th April
July 2024
M8
3
4th June, 18th June, 3rd July
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
8th Oct, 15th Oct, 22nd Oct, 29th Oct, 5th Nov
March 2025
M3, M5, M7
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M4 & M6
4
8th April, 15th April, 29th April, 6th June
July 2025
M8
3
10th June, 24th June, 8th July