I cannot express how pleased I am that exams are going ahead this year. I am able to plan, organise and structure my teaching once more around a clear end goal without flip flopping between TAG’s, assessments and the general unknown. I know this same sentiment however is not felt by students. We know what is coming, the hardship of revision that is needed and the intense pressure and stress that the exams culture puts students under. The problem is our students do not. They have not had to revise for exams or sit formalised, intensive exam periods that feel like you are sitting in a pressurised gas can ready to explode at any minute. So what can we do to help ensure our students are resilient revisers, independent workers and exam succeeders?
Identifying the problem:
A good place to start when organising revision is to ask students to write down what they think ‘resilience’ means and how a student would show this when preparing for exams. I would also ask them what independent study looks like. Quite often students might struggle to remain resilient or complete productive independent study but this is because they don’t know what these qualities actually look like in practice. From here you can discuss their views, iron out issues and set a clear structure of expectation.
You then need to work out if a student is struggling or underperforming due to lack of revision (night before exam cramming will not work) or a lack of fruitful revision (revising for hours but nothing is working). This will then help work out a strategy appropriate to the needs of the student.
Organising their minds:
A disorganised folder = disorganised mind and thus disorganised revision. Students need to be able to see a clear path through the topics in order to organise where to start.
So where to start: using the specification for each topic or a list of past exam questions get students to RAG rate what they know (green), sort of know (amber) and totally don’t know (red). This way they can see where their priority areas are (see Past Exam Questions: Gaps and Patterns (for 2022 exam))
Once they have identified which areas need the most work, give students a blank weekly timetable (one for every week leading up the exam) and get them to fill out when they have free evenings, weekends and study periods (this is often tricky around student’s employment schedules and can often be an ongoing activity). Have them add in important dates like the exams, class mocks, HW deadlines or tests. From here they start to fill out what topic areas they will revise on what day. This provides much needed structure to their revision.
Revision strategies:Continue reading ““But I have never sat an exam before!” Strategies to Help Students Excel.”