Exam technique is vital for all exams. I believe in teaching both the content and exam technique. Using certain techniques I have been able to turn U grades into A grades. To understand good exam technique you need to understand how exams are marked. As an examiner I am very aware of how they are marked.
How the papers are marked
All exams are marked against a mark scheme. The mark schemes contain the “buzz words” or the key marking points. Students can improve their grade by using these marking points. Virtually all of these marking points I have committed to memory over a period of years. These marking points tend to vary for exam board. AQA uses slightly different points say to OCR.
Within my lessons I deliver marking points within the notes that I create with the students. In addition I supply past paper questions split by topic to allow students to learn these marking points.
For online students I can bring past paper questions into the special online software program. We can then write the answers onto the screen. The student can screen capture or write down the essential marking points.
Physics and Maths tutor splits the questions by topic simply select the subject e.g Biology, followed by Biology Revision. Then select the level and exam board. Files marked as QP are question papers and those marked as MS are mark schemes.
Grade boundaries for each paper vary depending on how well the candidates do nationally at a particular exam sitting. If they do well, the boundaries go up, and if they don’t do well then the boundaries go down. This is designed to stop large fluctuations in grades from year to year, providing a level of consistency.
Exam technique is not taught in books or if it is, there is very little taught. The books simply teach the content of the course.
I use professional exam software to teach my students:
Key stage 3: Test base
AQA exam pro: exam pro
OCR exam: Exam quest (No longer currently available for purchase).
Edexcel exam: Exam wizard
Examiners previously marked the papers with a pen. Candidates complete the papers. Admin staff scan and upload the completed papers onto a central marking database. Examiners like myself, then normally mark them online.
When an examiner marks a candidates response they only normally see the bottom of the question and the dotted answer lines. They DON’T see below the dotted lines. The problem with this is that if a candidate has placed a full stop at the end of the last dotted line, the examiner may think that is the end of the answer. It may well not be, if the candidate has written information below the last dotted line. Examiners can view more of the page after pressing the view button. Its a manual action every time the examiner wants to expand the view. To avoid this problem the best solution is to write on the last dotted line “SEE BELOW” and then the examiner will know to expand the view.