In the exam, whats the best way to analyse and discuss the question efficiently to gain the maximum marks, in the maximum time, without waffling?
The best way to answer questions of literature on an exam is to be complete and stick to topic at hand. When answering questions in the format of short answer or essay, you should try to support your response as much as you possibly can. This does not need to be done with quotes all the time. Citing scenes or important moments as evidence also works. If you are answering questions that are straightforward, make sure to stick to the relevant information. Do not get side tracked and start answering or discussing issues that were not in the prompt. Try to recall all class discussions and study all the quizzes and notes that you have from the literature being tested. Whenever possible, use the information from lectures in your answers. Teachers usually test over information they have already covered in class.
I think the best way to treat any question is to stay close to what has been asked. Various questions need to be treated differently. For example, if the question is straightforward pertaining to a particular scene you need to focus only on that; whereas character analysis would need an indepth study of the character in diverse situations, scenes and his/ her reactions to the same. Sometimes we are more worried about the length of an answer. Remember, that length does not matter as long as you discuss the same in fewer words, without beating around the bush.
I always advise candidates to be brief when answering reference to context questions, but to be more analytical in essay type of questions.It is also important to be more focussed in keeping to word limit and answering to the point without including irrelevant detail which has no importance.
To check and deep research the previous exam questions. And also freel feel to ask to seniors about exam and disccuess well. Thet discuss study is the best way to remember. Many indian institue like IIM, IIAM, IIMC and IIT students are follow this way to improve their skill. Please follow this way. You could make more marks in your exam.Best of luck.........!!