The following advice applies not only to English exams but also to history, RE, Geography or any exam with several written questions to tackle.
So which question to answer first? Don’t forget there’s absolutely no rule that says you have to start with question 1.
If there are 4 questions to answer, first of all decide which ones you are going to choose. Then rate those questions in terms of how confident you feel about answering them. Let’s imagine you’ve decided on questions 1, 3, 5, and 7. You are very confident about answering 7, fairly confident about 3, less so about 1, and not at all confident about 5.
Start with 3. The reasoning behind this is that your first answer will get you into the swing of writing, warm you up, as it were. You still want a question that you feel pretty good about, however, to build your confidence.
Next do 7 – your favourite. You should be fully warmed up and writing well by now.
Then do 1 and last of all 5. The chances are that you will have less time for your last answer and that doesn’t matter if it’s one that you know less about and for which you potentially will earn less marks.
Following on from this you can see that timings for each question are important. Most teachers advise taking off, say, 10 minutes for checking and then dividing the remaining time by the number of questions – assuming they are all worth equal marks. (Naturally if some questions are worth more marks you will need to adjust your timings accordingly.) However I would urge you to be slightly flexible on your timings. It is worth allowing an extra 5 or even 10 minutes on a question that you feel you can answer well and therefore gain good marks and deducting that 5 or 10 minutes from a question that you are struggling with. The aim is, of course, to maximise your marks.
Got exams coming up? No matter what the subject matter is, exam technique is all important. Here are our 5 top tips for successful exam technique:
1. Read the whole paper through from start to end before starting to answer any questions
2. Work out your timings – make sure you know when you need to move from section to section
3. Work out in what order you will answer the questions – you don’t have to start at section 1!
4. Plan each answer in quick note form before you start.
5. Be careful with timings. If you have 5 questions each worth 20 marks – it’s no good writing an almost perfect answer to question 1 (which might get you 17 marks) and have no time to start on question 5 (zero marks). Do a little less on question one (15 marks) and spend time on question 5 (10 marks) … and do the maths. You’ll get 25 marks instead of just 17.
Good luck – and remember to breathe
To all my pupils taking exams this month and June.
This is so true. One of the reasons private tuition can produce such good results is that the tutor has to treat the pupil as an individual and match material to their needs.
Exams are looming for quite a few pupils so I thought they might like this picture!
to all those getting their results today. Hope you all get the grades you need.
… until GCSE and A levels start. Have you drafted your revision plan? Hopefully you’ve already made a good start on your revision. It’s still not too late to book a couple of lessons to sort out a tricky piece of the syllabus. Perhaps you struggle with the poetry section of the Literature paper or can’t get to grips with writing non-fiction? Perhaps you need more practice with French listening? Two or three lessons could make all the difference to your final grade and push you up to that all important A or A*.
Making a plan is vital. Not only does it help give structure and organisation to the revision process but the very act of putting pen to paper makes a commitment. That plan will pull them back to revision more effectively than any nagging parent!
Another useful tip is to get a friend/teacher/parent to help mentor this plan. Once the plan has been drawn up it’s so much easier to hold pupils to a timetable already agreed upon.
Prioritise your subjects – find out the dates of your exams and plan your revision accordingly. Don’t forget that oral exams for French will be early on so the work for those needs to be covered NOW.
Identify the subjects that give you most trouble and give them priority. It’s always tempting to spend hours on the subjects you enjoy and avoid the tricky ones. Be honest about your abilities and spend time on those subjects and topics that need the work.
Revision can be broken into 3 main stages: learning the material, practising on past exam papers and lastly fine-tuning your exam techniques. Practising past papers will help with time management and working under pressure.
Revision sessions can either be time related or goal related. Most experts seem to favour goals such as learning 5 vocabulary topics or reading through 2 acts of a Shakespeare play.
Don’t forget to schedule in breaks too – they’re very important. Breaks help you absorb and process the information so plan in plenty of them. Lots of short revision sessions (30 mins) plus short breaks (10 mins) works best. This is especially true when you are trying to take in new information. Nearer the exams when you are going over topics you are familiar with you can extend your work sessions to about an hour, possibly 2.
Don’t forget to stay healthy – see my last blog Keep fit ! for tips on this too.
And lastly if you’re struggling with your revision plan why not book a lesson or two with a tutor to give you some guidance.
If you need specific help with Edexcel or AQA poetry, Shakespeare or other literature texts please contact me and we can set up a Skype revision session via Helping Learning at a time that suits you. You can book either a 30 minute or an hour session whichever you feel works best for you. The revision will be tailored completely to your needs.
Please call me on 07855301904 or 01189737686 to discuss further and fix a date/time.
Like many areas of the country Farley Hill has received its fair share of the snow. My lessons for yesterday and today have cancelled, understandably not wanting to take the risk of getting stranded in the snow. Many schools closed yesterday, at a time when many pupils are faced with exam modules for A and GCSE or mock exams.
But, of course, my Skype lessons can continue unaffected by the weather. I now have four Skype pupils and I am sure many more people will consider this option in future. Apart from the weather factor, there is the convenience of parents not having to be available as chauffeurs or having to while away an hour as their offspring are tutored. There are some limitations – having to scan pages from text books unless the pupil also has a copy at home, for example – but there is so much material available on the net that there are usually ways around it. Typically lessons on Skype require more organisation in advance and it’s harder to suddenly switch topics. Written work has to be shared by sending files, correcting them online with tracked changes and returning them for discussion. Instant messaging is useful for short answers or exercises.
All my Skype lessons so far are for English and it will be interesting to see how French tutor sessions will work. Written work will need some thought. Although there are ways to register accents etc via the keyboard they are rather time-consuming. Listening comprehension will also be a challenge. Does anyone have any experience of tutoring French via Skype?