It’s crunch time. Easter is over, and exam season is here. It might feel like you’ve done nothing but nag about revision for months now, but don’t quit yet. There are still ways to squeeze extra marks out of every remaining exam.
1. Wouldn’t it be great if we could read the examiner’s mind?
We can’t do that right now, but we can read his mind last year…
A GCSE mark scheme is like peering inside an examiner’s brain. Each one shows you EXACTLY what students had to do to get the mark for each question.
Bear with me while I slip into teacher mode for a minute…
(it’s ok, it’ll be over soon…)
You can get hold of both past papers and mark schemes online for every subject. Google ‘(subject) GCSE mark scheme’. (Make sure it’s the right exam board.)
There are sometimes abbreviations and codes in these. Check the start of the mark scheme for a list of what they mean.
Here’s an example from maths:
So the correct answer alone was worth 1 mark (A1). They then get marks for showing their working … with the second (M1dep) being dependent on having got the 1st working mark (M1).
“If you don’t show your working, you won’t get the marks!”
Every maths teacher ever
Studying mark schemes will show you exactly what the examiners want you to write down to get the marks. Spending an hour or two in the few days before each exam looking at these can make a HUGE difference. It’s also a great way to be clear on the structure of an exam, as well as helping with revision!
2.Make a non-cheating cheat sheet
Let’s face it – my children can barely remember where they left their shoes. To expect them to remember every key piece of information for every subject is just crazy.
Here’s the non-cheating secret. They only need to remember those final tricky facts for 10 minutes, tops.
As final preparation for an exam, get them to create a SIMPLE page with anything vital on it. They should stick to things they know they’ll struggle to remember otherwise, and KEEP IT SIMPLE.
They should take the sheet with them, and sit and memorise it while they wait to go into the exam. When they get into the exam, the first thing they should do when the examiner says ‘go’ is to find a blank sheet of paper. Take a deep breath, and write it all back down. BOOM! Instant fact sheet.
Are we nearly there yet?
It’s been a tough few months, but the end is in sight. All this will be worth it when their results arrive, and you’re forgiven for making them do all this revision! Next time they snap at you, think about how stressed you get when there’s a big deadline coming up. Don’t take it personally. You’re doing an amazing job. Keep going.
P.S. You’ve got this.