A not uncommon occurrence for students is that they only have a few days left before an exam for a course they are taking and may still have some topics that they need to revise. (This doesn't necessarily mean lack of commitment to the course, but there may have been other, harder subjects, or personal issues that arose.)

My question is if there a trick to choose the optimum number of past year question papers to optimize my score on the exams? Is there a general suggestion regarding which past year papers should I solve and which I should skip?

This question is coming from the perspective of the student, but I could envisage this also being a useful question for tutors or instructors.

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    Welcome to the site. On this site, answers will lean towards "how things should be". And as for your question, the "how things should be" answer is that you should focus on understanding the content of your lecture to the best possible degree in the remaining days - a well-designed exam should then be easy to pass. Past year's question are great to estimate after learning if your efforts so far appear to be sufficient. Focussing on these question during learning will guide your focus away from what is to be learned, which should be avoided to keep your knowledge applicable. Good luck!
    – DCTLib
    Sep 8, 2021 at 7:28
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    But in my last post users recommended me to follow past year questions rather than studying the whole syllabus. So I am asking that here. Sep 8, 2021 at 7:33
  • I've edited this question (pending review) to try to make this question fit the style of questions on this site. However you should probably try to make the (new) paragraph beginning with My question ... clearer. I haven't edited this to try to keep the intention of the question intact. Sep 8, 2021 at 9:05
  • thank you. that is almost my point. Sep 8, 2021 at 9:09
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    @bikramnepali No, this is not what was proposed to you as comment to your other question. The proposal was to look at previous exams to get to know the level of detail you need to learn a subject, i.e., when to stop digging deeper into the supporting literature. This is not the same as preparing for an exam by learning primarily for answering questions like the ones that have been asked in exams before. The other comment given you there was again about using old exam questions to check your understanding, which comes after studying.
    – DCTLib
    Sep 8, 2021 at 10:24

2 Answers 2


No, there is no trick.

You could try to do some past year questions from as many different topics as possible, or maybe focus on the topics that show up most often, but beyond that: get studying.


Do as many problems as you can without making yourself physically and mentally unable to concentrate. (Don't pull an all nighter before the exam! And if you start feeling anxious, take a break and breathe.)

It's worth doing problems both that you think you know how to solve (so you can check the solution and look for little details you may have missed), and problems you don't feel comfortable with. However, it's generally better to spend more time with the subjects you feel the least comfortable with, so you learn them.

It's a good idea to set aside on exam that you will take under timed conditions to see how you perform. But while working through other exams, take your time and try to really understand all the details of the problems, especially the ones that are confusing. Understanding one difficult problem fully often gives you a good toolkit which lets you tackle other "nearby" problems.

There's no substitute for hard work. Good luck!

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