Ideas for Using Past-Paper
These can be done individually but most are better in groups.
Write The Mark-scheme
Give students exam questions (not multiple choice
Students have to write mark schemes for the
answers, modelling them on the style of those
provided by the exam board. They should:
Make it clear where each mark comes from (including
working out, units etc)
Consider alternative correct answers
Include common wrong answers and insufficient answers
Give students the mark schemes for some pastpaper questions.
Challenge the students to write suitable questions to
Pass The Buck
Working in small groups:
Working individually, students begin drafting the answer to
After 5 minutes they pass their answer clockwise to the
next person in the group
They continue working on their newly received answer,
crossing out any bits they disagree with and anything new
they feel is needed
After a number of rotations, the questions are returned to
the original author who uses all the contributions to draft
the final ‘perfect’ answer
Works best with longer multi-mark questions
Mark the Teacher
Provide students with a sample answer to an exam
question, but include common mistakes and
Challenge students to mark it, identify the mistakes,
and correct them.
Split the class into a number of groups (4 or so is
Give the groups different past-papers and ask them
to put together a 5-mark quiz of the most difficult
questions in the paper
Give the quizzes to rest of the class
A team scores a point if no-one else in the class can
correctly answer the question
This is a website that allows you as a teacher to
create a class and pose questions, and for the class
to collaboratively answer them.
Works particularly well with long, complex questions
as it lets students see a much wider range of
Would work for homework
You will need to take 5 or so minutes to show
students how to use it, but it is easy once you get the
hang of it!
Write your own question
Students use a past-exam question as a template to
write a new question and corresponding mark
Students swap their questions over and attempt to
answer the questions developed by other groups.
This is a team race to answer exam questions as quickly
and accurately as possible
Prepare a series of 5-10 short (1-3 mark) past questions on a
topic the students find difficult.
Group the students into teams.
A ‘runner’ from each team collects the first question from the
The team answers the question and the ‘runner’ then returns it
to the teacher who gives them the next question and adds a
point to their score
The teacher keeps score on the board
Students can opt to skip a question at the cost of losing a point
The winner is the first team to answer ALL questions correctly
or the team with the highest score at the end of 15 minutes.
This is aimed at helping students to understand what
questions are asking.
Give students a number of past exam questions. For
each one, they should:
Underline the command words – state, describe, compare
Highlight any special instructions – for example ‘tick one
Say which topics/skills they need to use to answer the
Re-write the question in their own words
For longer questions, describe briefly how they would
answer the question (but not actually what their answer
The aim of this is to get students reflecting on how
certain/confident they are in their knowledge, by assigning a
bigger ‘multiplier’ to questions they are more confident about
It runs as a competition where individuals/groups aim to
maximise their score on a test paper:
Give students a past-paper to answer
Assign each student/group a series of score multipliers (one 4x
multiplier, two 3x multipliers, three 2x multipliers)
After answering a question, students can choose to assign one of
their multipliers to it based on how certain they are about their
If a student gets full marks on a question the score is multiplied by
If students do not get full marks on a question, they multiply the
number of marks dropped by the multiplier and subtract this from
their total score
If students choose not to assign a multiplier to a question, they get
to keep any points scored regardless of whether they made a
Students complete past-paper questions as usual.
Students swap papers to mark each others’ work but
should do so without the mark scheme.
They should mark in two colours (for example red and
green) using red for ticks or crosses where they are
confident about their marking and green where they
They should look at the mark scheme in the end to see if
they were right.
Students should make notes on the areas where their
marking was wrong and focus on this in their revision.
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