1. A Revision Timetable
The earlier students can start their revision, the better they are likely to perform on exam day. At the outset make it very clear what parts of the curriculum will be covered during the exams and break this down into smaller more manageable revision sections.
Some students perform better if they have participated in a very structured revision period and for these it might be best to suggest they undertake a short revision course during the Christmas or Easter holidays.
2. Study Methods
In the lead up to exams it can be helpful to alter your teaching style to include more active methods of learning. These help to cater to the differing methods of study favoured by each individual child. It will also help to keep them engaged during the revision period. If you can incorporate a sense of fun into revision, this can help the information to be remembered more easily and for a longer time.
Active learning methods include: note writing and rewriting; mind-mapping; quizzes; audio recording revision notes; and flashcards. Also encourage your students to work together in small groups to revise as they can help each other by sharing notes and giving each other short tests.
3. Being Prepared
When a student walks into an exam it can seem less stressful if they know what to expect. This can be simple things like how the room will be laid out, what they are allowed to take in with them and the design of the exam paper itself.
Spend time working through past papers and making sure your students have a strong grasp of the language of the questions and are clear on what they are being asked to do. Many people get lower exam results than expected, not because they didn’t have the necessary knowledge, but because they failed to read the question properly and therefore gave an inappropriate answer.
You should also get your students to sit timed past papers so they get a feel for how much they are able to write and don’t spend all their precious time on the first couple of questions.
It is important to keep a close watch on students in the lead up to exams to make sure that stress isn’t affecting them too badly. If you feel they are overworking or suffering from anxiety it is best to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling with you, another teacher or their parents. By expressing their worries about the exams it can lead to fewer feelings of isolation and help them to put the results into perspective in terms of their wider life.
5. Exam Day Dawns
As we have already discussed it’s important that your students know what to expect on exam day. You can also explain to them that examiners will mark hundreds of papers so the neater and more legible they can keep their handwriting on the day the better. Don’t encourage students to memorise whole paragraphs to include in their answers as this will lead to them failing to answer the actual question being asked. It is also easy for those marking the papers to spot this type of rote learning. Originality is always a plus.
By starting early with revision planning and encouraging children to test themselves and each other frequently, you are doing the two best things for the ultimate success of your students. Research has shown that early planning and continual testing through the revision period are the two factors which most heavily influence a positive outcome on exam day.
How do you handle the exam period? Let us know in the comments.