HOW I USE PAST PAPERS WITH MY STUDENTS
A key element in effective revision for exams is to consult past exam papers. I often impress upon my candidates to look back at what other faced and succeeded. By looking at past exam papers, they can get an idea of the sorts of topical questions which come up on the paper, as well as how many questions they are likely to have to answer. This way, I expect them to reduce the chances of being surprised by the real paper on the day.
I always break down the revision into a simple plan of action that gives the students the skills and the techniques’ to answer simple and challenging questions. I challenge them to think back at what others did before them. This leads them to think and plan ahead. Sometimes, students use these past papers to think up their own questions. This allows them to visualize their knowledge by writing and drawing on paper. They manage to successfully bring out common themes and ideas and to explore what they know.
I also challenge them to figure out how certain concepts could be examined in different perspectives. This gives them the opportunity to think and act like examiners themselves! I encourage them to work in small groups at first, and then bring out their collective thoughts for whole class discussion or some sort of brainstorm. In the end, I get them to get a feel for each type of questions that might be on the actual paper.
Using a past paper, organize the students to undertake a mock exam, under exam conditions. This helps them to practice writing under time constraints. The results can be analyzed against what was actually specified for each question on that paper. Some question can be asked and answers and relevant advice given.
- Did you spend too little or too much time on each question?
- Did you match your responses to the number of marks in each question?
- Did you miss the key words in any question?
This is a valuable feed back in preparation of final examination. The reminder of the revision or study time is spent polishing up and addressing any inadequacies that may have come to light.