This section comprises of several parts

I found with my trainees that had struggled with the SAQs, that there were a couple of common themes:

  • Not answering the question, being tangential
  • Answer doesn't flow logically. Using the shotgun approach - writing down every piece of vaguely relevant information seemingly in whatever order it was recalled in
  • Applying a generic structure template to everything, even when it doesn't make sense to
  • Being sloppy and imprecise with terminology and not demonstrating a good understanding of a concept

So I tried to go about writing a document to illustrate how I thought SAQs should be answered. I found it difficult to give detailed advice that was more useful than "answer the question" and "be more structured" without sounding pretentious. In the end, I gave up and embraced it, inventing my own model for SAQ analysis and ended up with a wanky sounding manifesto. If you can look past that, I hope that you can understand the points that I am trying to make.

SAQ Principles

I divide SAQs into straightforward, simple Level 1 questions and more complex Level 2 questions (see SAQ Interpretation section below).

If you have the raw knowledge, Level 1 questions shouldn't pose any challenge in terms of deciding how to structure them. These are questions that ask you to classify drugs, list potential adverse effects, compare and contrast, etc. These types of questions don't really need any sort of introduction, or maybe just a one line statement if you want. If it's a compare/contrast type question, then the best format to use is often - but not always! - a table. Otherwise, just list out everything under headings.

Level 2 questions, by their nature, are more complex and benefit from an introduction that sets the scene and/or broadly answers the question succinctly, followed by the body of your answer that goes over all the nitty gritty details.

Introduction

The introduction should

  • Broadly answer the question and/or
  • Set the scene or give context to the detailed explanation that follows
  • Eg “What are the physiological consequences of one lung ventilation?” “One lung ventilation occludes ventilation to one lung, which still remains perfused. This creates a large shunt which leads to several physiological consequences…”

Often useful to provide definitions, but only if it contributes some new knowledge that is relevant to answering the question

  • Eg “Outline the physiological response to a Valsalva manoeuvre”. “A Valsalva manoeuvre is a manoeuvre that ↑ intrathoracic pressure, usually by forced expiration against a closed glottis. This results in cardiovascular changes that occur in 4 phases…”
  • Eg “Write short notes on the factors that affect the speed of onset of local anaesthetics used to produce peripheral nerve block”. Defining what a local anaesthetic is doesn’t add anything to answering the question. Conversely, if the question was “Outline the pharmacology of local anaesthetics” then providing a definition would be relevant because defining the structure and/or pharmacodynamic action is part of its pharmacology.
  • Don’t define things that are self-evident.
    • “End tidal CO2 is the partial pressure of CO2 at the end of a tidal breath”
    • “Arterial pCO2 is the partial pressure of CO2 in arterial blood”

Body (Detailed Explanation)

  • Should provide the details or further explain what you’ve broadly said in your introduction
  • There should be a logical flow to the answer
  • Mechanisms of action should be explained in a step by step manner, without any large logical leaps between steps
  • Being able to clearly explain concepts/mechanisms scores much more highly than regurgitating memorized numbers

Using Precise language

Be precise in your language. When you use a term in a way that isn’t technically correct usage , it creates the impression that you don’t understand it.

Be specific in your language. When you use a term that is not technically incorrect, but there is a more specific term for what you mean, it creates the impression that you don’t understand it.

BadGoodWhy
When ↑BMR, eg exercise, pregnancy…When ↑ metabolic rate, eg exercise, pregnancy…By definition BMR is basal. I know what you mean, but it is sloppy
Atelectasis leads to hypoxaemia by causing V/Q mismatchAtelectasis leads to hypoxaemia by causing shuntingSaying that the cause is V/Q mismatch is like saying you are ordering a test to “look for abnormality”. Unless it is actually a question on V/Q mismatch, you should be more specific
↑West zone 1 → ↑ dead space↑West zone 1 → ↑alveolar dead spaceBy being non-specific, the examiner can't be sure if you actually understand the concept of alveolar dead space, which is quite distinct from anatomical dead space

Demonstrating Your Understanding

Writing down correct statements is not enough, the answer must clearly demonstrate your understanding of the topic.

How can you more clearly show your understanding of a concept?

  • Explain its mechanism step by step AND
  • Use the corresponding keyword (if applicable) AND
  • Illustrate your point with an example (if applicable) AND
  • Draw the relevant graph/diagram (if applicable)

Other Principles

  • Put the most important points first, followed by all the secondary points. If you write things down in a funny order, everything you write may be true, but it won't get you as many marks because it looks like you've missed the point and don't understand what is most important. To illustrate:
    • Q What components make up a car?
      • cup holder
      • stereo
      • wheels
      • engine
      • steering wheel
    • Q What are the pros of regional anaesthesia in a patient with severe pre-eclampsia?
      • mother can have skin-to-skin and breastfeed once baby is out
      • reduced incidence of DVT
      • avoid the exaggerated sympathetic response to laryngoscopy/intubation which can lead to severe hypertension and cerebral haemorrhage
  • Using the right language in your answers gives off the impression - rightly or wrongly - that you know your stuff. This is why it is to your own advantage to use keywords/buzzwords where applicable
  • This is not to say that if you correctly explain a concept without using the keywords that you can't get full marks, but if you express things in the conventional manner that the examiner is expecting to hear, it just inspires more confidence
  • Consider these two descriptions of laryngoscopy technique:
  • Doctor A
    • You want the neck flexed, but the head tilted back
    • Put the blade in on the right, so you're not going over the tongue
    • Push it in until you see the thing flopping back
    • Then lift up, without levering on the teeth, until you see the hole to put the tube in
  • Doctor B
    • Optimise head in the sniffing position
    • Insert blade into the right side of mouth and sweep the tongue to the left
    • Advance blade in the midline until tip is in the vallecula
    • Elevate along the axis of the handle, to flip up the epiglottis and visualise the vocal cords
  • They are both describing the same thing, but who sounds like an RMO and who sounds like a Reg?
  • However, writing down a keyword in isolation isn't enough to gain you marks, you need to use it in a context that demonstrates your understanding of them (see example below)
  • Use point form, examiners don’t like reading prose. They have said that most often the best answers are only 2 – 3 booklet pages long. It doesn't have to be an essay
  • There is no need to define standard abbreviations eg MAP, CVP, SpO2. Any non-standard abbreviation, write it out in full the first time with your abbreviation in brackets, then you can use your abbreviation thereafter

Example

Explain why the flow rate during forced expiration cannot be increased by increased effort.

  1. During forced expiration, after the initial effort dependent rise in flow rate to maximum, the flow rate becomes effort independent, ie ↑ effort does not result in ↑ flow rate
  2. This is due to dynamic compression of the airways
  3. During passive expiration, the driving pressure for gas flow is (alveolar P – mouth P)
  4. During forced expiration, the high intrathoracic (or intrapleural) pressure that surrounds the airway will at some point equal then exceed the pressure within the airway lumen as pressure drops from alveolus towards the mouth due to conversion to kinetic energy for gas flow – this is the equal pressure point (EPP)
  5. Distal to the EPP the airway is narrowed by the higher extraluminal pressure
  6. Thus the driving pressure becomes (alveolar P – intrathoracic P), ie a Starling resistor
  7. Increasing expiratory effort increases alveolar and intrathoracic pressures equally, thus the effective driving pressure remains unchanged
  8. Thus, flow rate depends only on the elastic recoil property of the lung and the lung volume

Breakdown:

1 – 2    Introduction. Broadly answers the question
3 – 6    Explains the mechanisms in a step-by-step manner
7 – 8    Addresses the clinical significance or conclusion

Using keywords helps you to get your point across succinctly and precisely, but using a keyword in isolation is unlikely to gain you marks, use it in a context that clarifies or defines the keyword and demonstrates your understanding of it. Try to highlight distinguishing features to show that you recognize that it is an important point.

NB the example above is quite wordy. Unless you are a medal contender, within the time constraints of the exam, you will often not have time to write out everything that you could if there weren’t any time limit. You will need to strip your answer back and decide what are the essential points and what can you omit and still score the bulk of the marks.

SAQ Interpretation

This is Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning, which I call the Pyramid of Knowledge:

Bloom's Taxonomy

If you have worked at a certain ICU in Sydney, you know all about the Pyramid of Knowledge ("I up here, you down there").

But in all seriousness, Bloom's Taxonomy is a big deal in models of education and adult learning. The examiners refer to it when setting the exam paper.

Broadly speaking, there are 2 categories of SAQs, based on it:

Level 1
Remember / Understand
Level 2
Apply / Analyze
Straightforward questionRequires you to demonstrate a higher level of comprehension
Regurgitate chunks of memorised knowledge without really needing to manipulate that knowledgeBroader question that requires you to filter and integrate knowledge from a large knowledge pool and/or interpret that knowledge somehow
What the examiner wants is pretty clear. You either know the answer or you don’tEven if you know all the knowledge required to answer the question, you may still score poorly if you misinterpret the question and focus on the wrong information or present the right information, but in a manner that is incongruous with the question asked
The question will generally ask you to
List
Classify
Explain
Describe
The question will generally ask you to
Outline
Discuss
Explain

When the examiners set the SAQ paper, they look at it to ensure that there is a good spread of these two types of questions (about 2/3 Level 1 and 1/3 Level 2 questions).

Level 1 Questions

This type of question has a clear focus on one topic, which should make up the body of your answer. They generally don’t need an introductory statement, or perhaps only a very succinct one. Basically, you just regurgitate all your knowledge onto the page - in a structured manner, of course.

Examples

2006A03 List the non-ideal features of nitrous oxide.

2005A01 Classify anti-emetic drugs. Give examples and describe side effects of each class.

2016A02 Draw and label a circle breathing system. Explain its advantages and disadvantages.

Level 2 Questions

This type of question has a focus, that is presented within a broader context. First you need to correctly identify the focus, so that you address it in the body of your answer, but to make it a coherent answer that answers the question, you also need to approach the focus from the standpoint of the context.

Examples

2015A10 Outline the physiological changes that may explain why an otherwise well patient may have a reduced urinary output intraoperatively.

2012A15 Describe the role of the kidneys in excretion of acid.

2015A05 Sevoflurane and fentanyl are a common anaesthetic drug combination. Discuss pharmacological reasons why it is useful to use them together.

2008A16 Discuss the physiological causes of early postoperative hypoxaemia

2005A12 Describe the physiological factors influencing carbon dioxide tension in arterial blood (unwritten context of needing to relate pCO2 to CO2 content)

Common errors

Misidentifying the focus and writing mostly about the context instead

  • eg 2015A10 Outline the physiological changes that may explain why an otherwise well patient may have a reduced urinary output intraoperatively.

Many candidates concentrated on all the possible causes of intra-operative hypotension, rather than describe how glomerular filtration, tubuloglomerular feedback and other mechanisms may lead to oliguria.

Ignoring the context and writing a generic spiel on the focus

  • eg 2015A05 Sevoflurane and fentanyl are a common anaesthetic drug combination. Discuss pharmacological reasons why it is useful to use them together.

The most common error made was to provide a table detailing often a considerable number of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties and then failing to relate this to the question. This was particularly the case with the pharmacokinetic properties of each drug.

Why is context so important?

Consider the 2 answers to the following SAQ:

Outline the impact of the prevalence of smartphones on society.

Answer A

Smartphones are mobile devices that have functionality beyond making phone calls, similar to a computer. Modern society is very busy and smartphones have facilitated and altered many aspects of daily life.

Work/Life Balance

  • Smartphones → contactable 24hrs/day → work often extends beyond work hours
  • People find it difficult to “switch off”

Memory and Cognitive Skills

  • ↑ Reliance on Contact apps → less people remember phone numbers → declining memory skills
  • Calculator apps and easy access to info on Internet → ↓ mental acuity

Social Interaction

  • High proportion of social interaction via social media apps, such as Facebook and Instagram → paradoxical ↑ feelings of isolation due to ↓ real life interactions
  • ↑ Social anxiety due to less experience with face to face confrontations

Answer B

Definitions

  • Smartphone – mobile devices that have functionality beyond making phone calls, similar to a computer
  • Society – the aggregation of people living together in an ordered community

Popular Smartphone Brands

  • iPhone
  • Samsung

Smartphone Features & Effects

  • Improved technology → ↑ battery life → use phone all day
  • Calendar – ability to store and sort social and work related events
  • ↑ Memory (up to 256GB) → store almost unlimited contact details
  • Utilities: internet, calculator – easy access to convenient applications
  • Social media apps – allow real time contact with many online friends
  • Smartphones → ↑ real life social isolation

Which answer would you score higher? Most likely Answer A, but why? Both answers were structured. Both answers presented pretty much the same information just from a different perspective, Answer B even has more detail. The information is not incorrect, a lot of the content one would expect in an answer is there, but it somehow just doesn’t feel like a good answer. The reason is because the information wasn’t presented from the perspective of answering the question that was asked.

An approach to answering level 2 SAQs

  1. Identify the focus – remember the Primary is a basic sciences exam so it won’t be something clinical
  2. Identify the context
  3. Relate the focus to the context – what particular aspect about the focus does the question want you to highlight?
  4. Plan answer structure:

Introduction

  • Start by introducing the context
  • Finish by relating it to the focus

Body

  • The details of the focus

(See worked examples below).

Admittedly, not all questions will fit neatly into this model or structure. Also, I do not advocate rigidly trying to force all your answers to fit into a set “ideal answer” template or to try to follow the same recipe every time. Ultimately, you need to make sure that you read the question carefully – each word in the question has a purpose, don’t ignore them! – and ensure that your answer addresses specifically what the question is asking.

Working through the following example consciously using this method is laborious, but as an exercise during your preparation, I hope that it can help to give you a clearer idea of one approach to structuring answers to more complex questions. You need to develop your own style that feels most comfortable and intuitive to you, just make sure that

  1. You answer the question asked
  2. It has a logical flow to it
  3. Concepts and mechanisms of action are expressed clearly and unambiguously

Worked Example 1

2012A15 Describe the role of the kidneys in excretion of acid. (23%)

  1. Identify the focus
  • The role of the kidneys (in excretion of acid), i.e. how do the kidneys handle acid?

This question wants me to focus on the processes in the kidney relating to acid-base handling

  1. Identify the context
  • Excretion of acid, i.e. how does the body eliminate acid, in general?

OK, I’ll need to talk about all routes of elimination, for both fixed and volatile acids

  1. Relate the focus to the context

I need to highlight specifically how the kidneys fit in to the overall process of acid elimination

  1. Plan answer structure:

Introduction

Start by introducing the context

Acids are a waste product of metabolism. 2 types of acids are produced that must be eliminated from the body in order to maintain acid-base homeostasis:

  1. Volatile acids
  • CO2 produced from oxidative phosphorylation
  • Daily load 15,000 mmol produced
  • Eliminated via expiration from the lungs
  1. Fixed/Non-volatile acids
  • Lactic acid from CHO metabolism
  • Ketone from fat metabolism
  • Phosphate and sulphur acids from protein metabolism
  • Daily load 70 – 100 mmol produced

Finish the intro by relating it to the focus

The kidneys are the only route of elimination for fixed acids 

Body

The details of the focus

There are 3 process by which the kidneys process acids:

  1. Reabsorption of filtered bicarbonate
  2. Excretion of titratable acidity
  3. Excretion of ammonia

blah, blah, blah… 

Worked Example 2

2017A Discuss the physiological consequences of total spinal anaesthesia caused by intrathecal administration of 20 ml of 2% lignocaine at the L3/4 level. (Do not include management) (29%)

  1. Identify the focus

Physiological consequences of total spinal anaesthesia

This question wants me to focus on what happens with a total spinal

  1. Identify the context

Intrathecal administration of 20 ml of 2% lignocaine at the L3/4 level

I’ll need to make a comment about this choice of drug and dose

  1. Relate the focus to the context

How does total spinal anaesthesia fit in with the intrathecal injection that was given?

  1. Plan answer structure:

Introduction

Start by introducing the context

Total spinal anaesthesia occurs when nerve electrical transmission is blocked at all levels of the spinal cord, up to and including the brainstem.  

20ml 2% Lignocaine is an unusual choice of LA and dose for spinal anaesthesia. It is equipotent to 20ml 0.5% bupivacaine, which is commonly administered intrathecally in the dose range of 2-3ml in clinical practice. 

Finish by relating it to the focus

Hence it is not unexpected that it would cause total spinal anaesthesia. This would result in various consequences dependant on the type and location of the nerves that are blocked.

Body

The details of the focus

  1. Sympathetic
  • thoracic chain
  • v/d
  • cardioaccel fibres T1-2
  1. Sensory
  2. Motor
  • Mm of respiration and innervation
  1. Brainstem
  • Resp centre
  • CVS centre
  • Cranial nerves
  • RAS
  1. Parasympathetic

Using the Examiners Reports and Model SAQ Answers

The Examiners Reports and the plethora of available model SAQ answers that past candidates have written are fantastic resources. However, there are some caveats to using them.

Keep in mind that while some of the Examiners Reports are written in the style of the marker's ideal answer structure, many are not - as they were never intended to be used as model answers. Because it is assumed that candidates will look up the relevant information in the recommended textbooks, the marker does not bother to reproduce all that information in the report, and only makes comments about things that were interesting or unusual about candidates' answers. Thus, if you have the mindset that 'the examiner mentioned this, therefore this must be the most important thing to write in my answer', you can end up with a skewed view.

Then when you see other people have written model answers that focus on all the things that are mentioned in the Examiners Report, it is reinforced that this is how you should answer the question.

An example of how this can go wrong is the question:

2017B13 Describe the determinants of left ventricular myocardial oxygen supply and demand. (50.7%)

Similar questions have been repeated multiple times (2012A16, 2010B10, 2008B14, 2003B09, 2002B11) with pass rates from 28% to 54.1%). This is a core topic within a core topic. It should be a gimme, the pass rate should be close to 100%. What is going on??

Earlier Examiner Reports commented that some candidates structured their answer around Ohm's Law, and some chose the Hagen-Poiseuille Equation - both of which are fine choices to structure an answer around. I think candidates read that and when the question popped up again, used Ohm and Poiseuille again, and so examiners commented on it again. This cycle repeated, and it gave the impression that the core part of the answer was to explain the Poiseuille equation and now candidates spend the first 2/3 of their answer deriving and explaining the Poiseuille Equation.

I have had trainees reproduce this model answer from Propofol Dreams in practice papers, almost word for word. I can see that the author has looked at all the past Examiners Reports, and then structured an answer based on all the things that keep getting mentioned. The problem is, the most important point to explain - that blood flow to the LV is predominantly in diastole -  is not even mentioned in the answer, and there is not even the classic flow-vs-time graph. I think this is because none of the Examiners Reports mention that, because it is assumed that people already know that from their study, it's such basic knowledge, why would they write about it. A good answer should focus more on the points highlighted in the Brandis chapters "Coronary Blood Flow" and "Myocardial Oxygen Consumption". Instead, candidates appear to be choosing to rote learn a pre-written answer.

So keep that in mind when using the Examiners Reports and other people's model answers.

NB I'm not dissing Propofol Dreams, it is an excellent resource!

Common Mistakes

I have already addressed these in the above sections, but to re-iterate and give some more specific examples, with comments from the Examiners Reports, I list them here again:

Misinterpret the Question

2017B07 Compare and contrast the pharmacology of ephedrine and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

Some candidates answered the question using adrenaline instead of ephedrine and candidates are reminded to read short answer questions carefully.

2013C16 Explain how oxygen supply of organs is maintained during isovolaemic haemodilution.

The question specifically stated isovolaemia so that no points were scored for explanations of responses to hypovolaemic shock.

2017A03 Propofol and remifentanil TCI are often given together a total intravenous anaesthesia technique. Discuss pharmacological reasons why this is a useful combination

Lists of pharmacokinetic values for half life, Keo, volume of distribution, pKa, ionised fractions etc without explaining their relevance did not attract marks.

Tangential Information

Here is one examiner's comments/examples of when diagrams are useful and when they are irrelevant, from PLOOTD.

2017B03 a) Describe the immediate cardiovascular responses to the sudden loss of 30% of the blood volume in a healthy awake person. b) How are these responses different if the patient is undergoing anaesthesia with sevoflurane?

Detailed anatomical descriptions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems were not required.

2017B03 a) Describe the immediate cardiovascular responses to the sudden loss of 30% of the blood volume in a healthy awake person. b) How are these responses different if the patient is undergoing anaesthesia with sevoflurane?

Discussions on the effects of intravenous anaesthesia, mechanical ventilation or the treatment of hypotension did not attract marks.

2017B04 a) Describe the generation and features of a normal awake EEG (15 marks). b) Briefly discuss the processing performed by quantitative EEG monitors (such as BIS or Entropy) to produce a single number from the EEG (10 marks).

The majority of candidates misinterpreted the second part of the question, and provided answers to highlight the utility of the processed EEG.

2017B06 Describe the effects of morbid obesity on the respiratory system.

In addition there were some marks allocated to the pathophysiological changes seen - as obesity is itself a pathology - however a sole focus on pathology was insufficient to achieve a pass. Notably there were no marks achieved for describing the metabolic, endocrine or cardiovascular effects of morbid obesity.

2017B08 Discuss the factors affecting duration of action of a local anaesthetic block to a major peripheral nerve.

Marks were not awarded for discussions of pathology, mechanism of action or describing factors affecting the onset time of these drugs

2017B10 Describe the physiological processes that influence the rate of gastric emptying.

Common mistakes included detailed discussion of gastric acid production or function of the lower oesophageal sphincter, which is not within the scope of this question.

2017B14 Describe the pharmacodynamic properties of propofol EXCLUDING its effects on the central nervous system. Describe how these influence clinical use.

Despite the question specifically requesting only information related to the pharmacodynamics, and how these influence clinical use, many candidates wasted time on descriptions of the general pharmacology, including its indications, dosage, mechanism of action and chemical structure.

Incorrect Information

2017B01 Describe the visceral and somatic pain of labour with particular reference to the anatomy of the pain pathways.

Some candidates made inaccurate statements about the utility of epidural or spinal analgesia to treat labour pain.

2017B15 Write brief notes on the pharmacology of tramadol.

many clearly made up values for lipid solubility, pKa, protein binding and volume of distribution. Guessing does not get awarded marks.

Explanations not Step-by-Step

2017B07 Compare and contrast the pharmacology of ephedrine and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

Common errors included being vague with answers (e.g. “works at adrenoreceptors”)

2017B10 Describe the physiological processes that influence the rate of gastric emptying.

Common mistakes included answering in tabular format, which listed factors that increase or decrease gastric emptying without further discussion.

2017B12 Describe the clinical effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including the mechanism(s) through which they exert these effects.

Merely stating the mechanism of the effect as “reduced prostaglandin synthesis” scored minimal points, as the mechanism by which these drugs produce their effects has been well elucidated.

2017A15 Outline the clinical laboratory assessment of liver function

Circular statements were another pitfall, where candidates rephrased their point as a way of explanation.

Imprecise Terminology

2017B02 Using a labelled diagram, describe how a mechanical (non-cassette) variable bypass vaporiser achieves the concentration set on the dial. Describe the mechanisms that compensate for temperature and downstream pressure changes.

At times, it was unclear whether candidates were referring to ambient temperature or vaporiser temperature.

2017B13 Describe the determinants of left ventricular myocardial oxygen supply and demand.

Terms such as “tension”, “stress", “afterload", and “pressure" were often used very loosely.

Irrelevant Definitions

2017B01 Describe the visceral and somatic pain of labour with particular reference to the anatomy of the pain pathways.

Many candidates wasted minutes by writing wordy definitions of all of the terms in the question – including ‘pain’ and ‘labour’ – where many more marks could have been earned addressing the main point of the question.

2017A06 Discuss the potential adverse effects of suxamethonium

This simply worded question highlighted a widespread pre-occupation with definitions and pre-defined structures falsely regarded as essential for a good mark.

Exercises

Close to the written exam, you must practice at least one full set of 15 practice SAQs, under exam condition. You have to become accustomed to the mental and physical strain of writing for 150 mins. I recommend that you use a low friction gel pen (the aggregation of marginal gains and all that).

Prior to that, there are several exercises that can be useful:

Full SAQ answers in 8 minutes

Basically practicing under harsher than exam conditions. It is imperative that in the real exam you do not go over 10 minutes per question. If your 10 mins is up and you can still write more, move on to the next question! Come back to it at the end of the exam if you have spare time. 

If you spend an extra 2 mins on a question, maybe you can get an extra 1 mark out of 25. But if that causes you to have only 5 mins left to answer the last question, it's guaranteed to lose you 10 marks.

Practice keeping under the time limit!

Show me the Money! (Answer structure in 2 mins)

Doing full SAQ answers is both exhausting and time consuming. Much of the benefit of practicing is derived from planning out your answer, practicing coming up with a coherent structure, rather than the actual writing out of the full answer. Give yourself 2 mins to write out a skeleton structure of how you would answer the question. 

Goal-Directed Exercises

If you already have a good handle on things, then I think doing lots of Show me the Money style practice is the way to go. But what if you find you are struggling with SAQs, it really doesn't come naturally to you? I have tried to come up with some preliminary exercises to target specific aspects of SAQ answering that you may find helpful. (These are all in docx format).

Segue Exercises

This exercise is aimed at forcing you to be step-by-step in your explanation of a mechanism or concept, by explaining things only using words and arrows.

Segue 1

In a Nutshell Exercises

This exercise is aimed at reducing tangentiality, by limiting how many points you can use to answer a question, forcing you to decide what is most important.

In a Nutshell 1

Train of Thought Exercises

This exercise is aimed at ensuring that you interpret the question correctly and plan out a coherently structured answer.

Train of Thought 1