It’s that time of year again. Everyone is starting to think about that dreaded E word.
As teachers, we know it’s not just subject knowledge and content we need to pass onto our students, but also exam skills and technique. The best way for this is practising exam questions.
I am a great advocate of this – hence the revision booklets and intervention packs (and many of the RAG worksheets) are comprised of exam questions. But it’s important to not over-do it as many students don’t find maths fun at the best of times, so it’s important that we prevent exam practice from being as dry as it potentially could be.
Other factors that I believe are important are collaboration and time management. Collaboration boosts students’ confidence as they can support and teach each other, and students will obviously be under an element of time pressure when they sit the final exam.
I have collated a few ideas below to hopefully make practising exam questions more fun.
I’ll start with my favourite. This entails printing several copies of the same exam on different coloured paper. Students work in teams and receive a single question (or page) of the exam paper at a time. Once they’ve completed a page, they get it marked. If all is correct, they receive the next page. Or, if they’ve made a mistake, they get a second chance to complete it.
Students can forfeit questions if they are completely stuck, or you could provide a limited number of question/hint cards (3 or 5 usually) that the students can use to get help from their teacher. I’m mean and deduct ‘points’ for phone usage or lack of participation. This activity provides a sufficient amount of pressure, but also a lot of enjoyment (my year 11s asked if they could do it every lesson…!)
I’ve tried a few different approaches to a revision carousel recently. I’ve settled on cutting up an exam paper into individual questions (not pages) and sticking them onto a coloured sheet of A3 paper. Students work in pairs or small groups to answer as many as they can in the given time limit. When the time is up, they move to the next table and check/correct the questions that have been done already and complete some more. They keep going until they are back in their original seats. At the end of the lesson, I give the total collaborative score out of 240 so they can see what they’re capable of as a group.
Depending on the behaviour of your class, this could be a winner or a disaster! Teams go head-to-head and take it in turns to throw a ping-pong ball into the other team’s cup. Each cup has a question in it, and students must complete these questions as the balls land in the cups. If the question is answered correctly, the throwing team win a point. If it’s answered incorrectly, they need to complete a forfeit (it’s up to you whether you come up with these or let the students create them!). This differs from the previous two activities as students as there is less opportunity for conferring, but it’s up to you how you let them answer the questions. Again, plenty of pressure as the other team is keen for them to complete a forfeit instead! Thank you to fellow Tweep @Craftie2004 for the picture!
There are a variety of these available online. Just Google the topic and put “treasure hunt” afterwards. For a revision lesson, I print 5 or 6 topics on different coloured paper (eg. solving equations on green, area and perimeter on blue) and stick the questions up around the room. I have found that students enjoy using whiteboards with these to make it a little more exciting.
On top of all of these activities, loads more can be found at the following websites:
Students can watch videos then answer questions to practice what they have learnt. Each quiz is marked straight away.
Similar to MathsWatch but with a greater number of questions for students to answer. Answers are included and easy to provide additional feedback.
A variety of exam question-based activities, with random generators, all with answers so students can receive instant support and feedback.
Loads of differentiated worksheets (bronze, silver, gold) on different topics with solutions included. Numbers are randomly generated so no two sets of questions are the same (great if your students like to copy each other!). Answers included for instant feedback.