Revising for Exams

It’s that time of year: as we prepare to bid farewell to our exam groups, how do we teach students to prepare effectively for GCSEs or A-levels? Thomas and Robin talk through how they help students revise for exams.

Both agreed that past papers form the core of their revision strategies and there are various sources for these, not least the relevant exam board, but also some excellent sites that have grown up in support of past paper practice.

There’s an overarching theme: the students need to be taught to revise and shown what good revision looks like.

Robin’s method is confusingly summarised below.

There are apps and sites that can help (see links section). Also colleagues are generous in their sharing of revision resources.

Past papers are key and Thomas reminds us to keep them fresh. Tips to keep some balance and not turning it into a slog are:

  • Use knowledge quizzes as quickfire ways of recapping key terms like definitions, equations, unit conversions etc.
  • Involve the core practicals – even if it is just a demo – to remind students how they work. Ask them to describe the experiment, analyse some data,, interpret a graph – anything that your exam board repeatedly asks.
  • Keep a visual log (e.g. on the board) of common learning points, useful mnemonics, little tips.
  • Rehearse specific question types (e.g. 6-markers, questions on practicals) and command words (Explain, evaluate, describe etc)
  • Mix it up so students don’t get past paper fatigue. Use practical resources, post-it notes, small challenges, competitions – anything to mix it up a bit.
  • Coach students in how to engage with the mark scheme.
  • Encourage students to look through the exam paper before they start writing so they can clock the questions and get their minds going.

Useful links

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