8 Strategies To Be Exam Ready

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Beth Hartwell

Beth writes for the Teacher Toolkit site from a secondary perspective. She is currently a Lead Practitioner of Teaching and Learning at a school in York with a specialism of teaching secondary Science. She is currently teaching in a iPad school and is interested sharing...
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What can you do in the final run up to exams?

As exams creep closer, it’s hard to maximise what time we have left with our classes. We want all of our pupils to enter the exam hall, feeling prepared and supported.

These 8 techniques will allow pupils to channel their revision and boost their confidence in those important last few weeks and days.

1 Identify weaknesses

Working on their weakest areas should be your priority, however, it is sometimes hard (at these final stages) to identify the weakest topic to tackle. Here are a couple of simple strategies to help identify their weaknesses:

  • Analyse pupils’ scores on a recent past paper. Are there any whole class trends?
  • Allow the pupils to judge their weaknesses by giving them the specification as a checklist.
  • Use quizzes such as Kahoot and Quizlet to identify gaps in class knowledge.
  • Use exit tickets (either printed or electronically via Socrative) to get the class’s opinion on their strengths and weaknesses.

2 Personalise messages to the pupils

It is such a hard time of year for our pupils – sometimes they just need a boost in confidence to encourage them to keep their revision going. Using little messages on past papers or electronically via Showbie can focus the students and channel their work. I generally stick to the format of:

  1. General comment on their progress.
  2. Strengths within their answers.
  3. Weaknesses and the next steps for success.

3 Keep parents or guardians informed

It is not too late to keep in contact with home. Whether it is an e-mail/phone call about how well they are doing or a discussion about how school and home can best support the pupils, the contact will help keep them on track.

4 Give rewards

Who doesn’t enjoy a piece of cake or chocolate when we’ve done something well? Using rewards can boost confidence and spur on last-minute revision. The reward doesn’t have to be a physical object – a minute of specific praise goes along way.

5 Be creative in the classroom

I firmly believe there is a time and a place for pupils to be working in silence allowing them to fully concentrate on their revision, however, we must still remember that most of our pupils learn “by doing”. A simple revision activity such a speed dating will get pupils to review many topics within a lesson. Pupils will actively engage with the content by teaching others.

6 Give them a quiet space to work

A school is a very busy (and noisy) place during the day. Allowing pupils a quiet place to work at break and lunchtime will allow them the choice to revise quietly and will ultimately make them feel valued.

7 Look at mark schemes as a class

Always put some time aside to model good exam technique, identifying the key themes that the examiner is looking for. This can be done by simply writing an answer on the board (and explaining the key parts) and then highlighting key parts of a mark scheme or using a visualiser for the class to see your thought process.

8 Be ‘present’ in the hour before the exam

Even the calmest of students can feel the pressure at this time of year. Assure them that, if they put in the effort with their revision, they can only try their best.

Your presence at the start of the exam will be a friendly face of reassurance to them, helping to calm them and put them in the right frame of mind to achieve their potential.


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