Time management during the exam

Time management is the single most critical skill of the IStructE Chartered Member Exam, with nearly all exam failures attributable to lack of time in some way.

One of the most popular and successful exam techniques is to divide the time for each part of the question according to the amount of marks available for it. You can start off with the basic fact that 7 hours long =420 mins. Take off 20 mins for sketching ideas at beginning and final check and you get 400 mins for 100 marks. 4 mins per mark.

You should try to learn the techniques to help you through Section 1 from our Exam Guidance Pack. There's a good feeling from knowing you're still on track halfway into your exam.

A typical schedule for questions based on designing a building might therefore be as follows:

09:15: Open exam script. Read through questions and select your preferred question.

09:30: Exam begins. Highlight critical parts to question, indicate to self where automatic failure points may occur. Spend 10 mins to sketch ideas and concepts for chosen question. Choose 2 to take forward This is rough work and will not be marked.

09:40: Scheme 1 Functional Framing

10:00: Scheme 1 Load Transfer

10:20: Scheme 1 Stability

10:40: Scheme 2 Functional Framing

11:00: Scheme 2 Load Transfer

11:20: Scheme 2 Stability

11:40: Justify choice of scheme

12:25: Letter to client. Think about what the problem is, how to solve it. Sketch ideas in rough first

12:35: Letter to client. Write letter.

13:00 – 13:30: Lunch break.

13:30: Calculations of critical elements. Loading.

13:38: Calculations of critical elements. Beam

13:50: Calculations of critical elements. Column

14:02: Calculations of critical elements. Key stability element/connection.

14:14: Calculations of critical elements. Specific detail 1 – e.g. splice plate for long span steel beam

14:26: Calculations of critical elements. Specific detail 2 – e.g. key beam-column connection

14:38: Calculations of critical elements. Foundation

14:50: Drawings. Plan, section, elevation, 2-3 details. Remember it is for cost estimation purposes, not construction!

16:10: Write detailed construction method statement and schedule

16:50: Go over any missing final bits. Check work. No silly mistakes.

17:00: End.

Naturally there will be some sections where through experience you will work faster than the others, so if you feel confident to reduce the time from one section, then you should redistribute that time into your weaker sections.