As teachers, we know that many of our students perform well in class but fail to show the effect of that learning when it comes to assessment. This is especially true where students do traditional pen on paper examinations that contribute towards exit certificates and university entrance. Therefore, teachers need to teach their students how to prepare for examinations so that they can show the examiner what they do know not what they don't know.
One way you can do this is to create with your class a model revision program leading up to exam time and follow-up and use the model with them.
Here is how I went about the process.
1. I set up my work program so that all the new teaching is completed at least two weeks before the examination.
2. During the last teaching period for new skills, I list the exam topics on the board and the lessons left prior to the exam that can be used for the revision program.
3. The class and I decide what topics will be revised and when and how much time we will spend on each topic.
4. The second last period of the revision program is set aside for a practice test.
5. The last period is used to review the practice test and answer any final questions.
6. During the second half of the lesson before the practice test, I spend time teaching or re teaching what I call exam technique.
7. Once the program has been settled, I indicate where, in the textbook, are the rules, procedures and the learning work that is essential preparation for the exam. As well, I indicate the basic questions to practise or answer in each topic. Finally, I explain what they need to do to get a better than average mark.
8. Then the students must revise each topic the night before it is set to be done in class, looking for and noting any problems they need to have addressed by me in the next period.
9. To begin each revision lesson, I might first have a short quiz of the basics the class needs to know. Then I answer questions from the class.
10. The remainder of the lesson is given to the students to continue the revision or to seek personal help from me.
11. Sometimes, a common problem arises so I re teach it to the whole class or a group.
12. I insist that every student works alone on this revision unless I have asked someone to give help to another.
13. I never answer problems on different topics from the nominated one for that lesson.
14. I also tell the students they may see me outside class time for these questions and I indicate where to find me and when.
15. Where revision questions are available in the textbook, the students are referred to them rather than to the normal text questions to add 'newness' to doing the questions.
16. The practice test always contains questions from past papers/exams varying in standard from simple to difficult in the learning or core work as well as in the extension/problem solving questions.
17. I always create a copy of the model answers which I publish on notice boards or as a hard copy for each student.
18. I review the practice test, giving answers first and working or answering fully only the difficult ones or those requested by students.
19. I ask students to review the way they used their exam technique in the practice test and to work out how they can improve that aspect of the exam process.
20. In addition, I always point out where errors are usually made in all the questions so students are aware of what to watch for.
21. Finally, I emphasise that students should try every question in the practice test doing the easy ones first to get a good start.
Using this process allows the teacher, especially the less experienced one, to get to understand where students have their greatest problems in each area that is taught. This gives the teacher the knowledge to address these issues with each new class in the years to come. In reality, it is a great form of professional development for any teacher.
Further information on this topic and others associated with examinations is available by emailing . Our author has been in the classroom for well over forty years, first as a classroom teacher and then as Head of Mathematics where he has organized class revision programs hundreds of times with his High School classes. He grew up in an era of external examinations and began his teaching career where he had to prepare students for these examinations.
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