Getting The Most Out Of Past Exam Papers


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Ten creative ideas for teachers to use when practicing past examination papers with students.

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Getting The Most Out Of Past Exam Papers

  1. 1. Ideas for Using Past-Paper Questions These can be done individually but most are better in groups.
  2. 2. Write The Mark-scheme  Give students exam questions (not multiple choice ones!)  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
  3. 3. Jeopardy  Give students the mark schemes for some pastpaper questions.  Challenge the students to write suitable questions to match them
  4. 4. Pass The Buck  Working in small groups:      Working individually, students begin drafting the answer to a question 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
  5. 5. Mark the Teacher  Provide students with a sample answer to an exam question, but include common mistakes and misconceptions  Challenge students to mark it, identify the mistakes, and correct them.
  6. 6. The Quiz  Split the class into a number of groups (4 or so is best)  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
  7. 7.  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 thinking  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!
  8. 8. Write your own question  Students use a past-exam question as a template to write a new question and corresponding mark scheme.  Students swap their questions over and attempt to answer the questions developed by other groups.
  9. 9. Revision Race  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 teacher 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.
  10. 10. Decoding  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 etc. Highlight any special instructions – for example ‘tick one box only’ Say which topics/skills they need to use to answer the question 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 would be)
  11. 11. Strategy   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 answer If a student gets full marks on a question the score is multiplied by the multiplier 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 mistake.
  12. 12. Blind Marking  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 aren’t confident.  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.