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Appearing for an important examination without sifting through the previous year question papers of the subject is often the formula for failure. Although you may end up getting through the exam satisfactorily, it is generally quite a risky strategy to have. Therefore, it is better to explore the previous years’ questions and familiarize yourself with the exam pattern. Even though some question papers may seem quite dynamic, there is always a pattern you can look out for, and find.
The need for old question papers
Studying and practicing are two of the most effective ways to excel in competitive examinations. And solving past papers is a part of that.
Almost all students attempt to solve the previous year question papers as mock tests before attempting the actual examination. But did you know that doing so can also give you valuable insights into the lay of the land?
Here are 5 benefits of solving questions from previous years’ papers-
1. Practice makes perfect
You can easily find most previous year question papers online. Start your prep by downloading and solving them as practice papers before appearing for your actual exam.
Going through previous year question papers gives you a better idea of the exam pattern. Moreover, in most exams, like the SAT, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, CLAT, or even IELTS and TOEFL, certain questions may be common throughout the last 5 or 10 years.
For example, some questions from the IELTS and TOEFL examinations may be repeated either in consecutive or alternate years. You will be able to identify them by going through the last 5 or 10 years’ question papers of these exams.
However, you must remember- only the basic pattern of questioning could be the same, not the whole question. And with enough practice, you should be able to solve these types of questions easily in your actual exam.
2. Effective time management
Previous years’ papers help you enhance your academic knowledge. But the benefits of going through them don’t stop there.
Competitive exams are time-bound. They don’t just test your competency but also your time management skills. You can develop these skills by timing yourself when attempting sample or previous years’ papers.
Moreover, previous year question papers also help you develop a better understanding of which questions to answer first, and which ones to keep for later. By solving these papers (whether it is for IELTS, TOEFL, GMAT, or GRE), you may find that answering the subjective questions before MCQs is a better strategy or vice versa.
Ultimately it depends upon your skill and orientation to understand which strategy suits you best. But practicing papers will help you recognize it!
3. Criterion for self-assessment
Previous year question papers serve as a valuable self-assessment tool to measure the progress of your exam preparation. You can solve these papers and measure your current performance against your previous attempts and understand the areas you excel and lack in.
The best way to measure your progress for any competitive examination is to maintain a diary of your progress. This diary can contain the marks you have scored for each previous year question paper you have attempted. The idea is to revisit this diary once every week to track your progress and increase the number of hours of study in the areas where you need improvement.
In this way, you can easily use such past year papers as a criterion of self-assessment to further enhance your exam preparation.
4. Increased confidence
Practicing previous year question papers can also increase your confidence in attempting competitive exams. Since most competitive exams have a somewhat fixed question pattern, becoming familiar with it can actually help boost your confidence and prepare you for the real examination.
For example, attempting the Quantitative Reasoning questions in the GMAT exam requires significant practice. Many of these questions can be quite perplexing to candidates if they have not attempted similar questions before. For example, if you sit for the GMAT exam with only theoretical knowledge and no idea about the question pattern, you might find yourself in a difficult situation.
However, by solving past year’s papers, you will have sufficient knowledge about the question pattern, which will make you all the more confident about appearing for the actual exam.
5. Effective strategy planning
While you use previous year question papers to enhance your time management skills, self-confidence, and familiarity with the exam pattern, you also need to develop a study plan. This plan should help you cover any knowledge or competency gaps you notice during your prep.
To do this, dig out the question types that you were not able to solve in the sample tests, and focus more on them. This way, you can use previous years’ papers to develop effective strategies for preparation and further study.
Since previous questions have been known to repeat quite often in some competitive examinations, it is best if you procure the papers from the most recent years and start solving them.
This way, you will not only get an idea of some of the probable questions that might be asked, but you can also practice your time management skills.
Most previous year question papers of competitive exams like the IELTS, TOEFL, GMAT, GRE, CLAT, etc. are readily available online. We suggest you download these papers along with their respective answer keys, so that you can also self-assess your progress after you’re done solving them.
1. Are previous year question papers for class 12 available online?
Yes, previous year question papers for class 12 are readily available online. Whether you are studying in CBSE, IGCSE, CISCE, IB, or even a regional state board in India, finding old question papers will not be a problem for you. Besides, you will also be able to find sample question papers online.
2. Are previous year question papers for the UPSC exam available online?
Yes, you can find previous year question papers for the UPSC preliminary and main exams readily available online. Download these from several trusted websites and begin your preparation to be an IAS, IPS, or IFS officer.
3. If I am preparing for my class 10 final exams, do I need previous year question papers as well as the class 10 state syllabus?
While you will always need the question papers from past years, you may not always need the class 10 syllabus of your state board. This requirement is only valid for students attending the particular state board, as the syllabus for the class 10 final exams may or not be the same for all education boards.