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.
All exams are marked against a mark scheme. The mark schemes contain the “buzz words” or the key marking points. In order for students to do well they need to use 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.
You also need to understand that the grade boundaries for each paper vary. This depends on how well the candidates do nationally at a particular exam sitting. If they do well, the boudaries go up, and if they don’t do well then the boundaries go down.
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
Traditionally an examiner would normally mark the papers with a pen. However, these days the papers once completed by the candidates are scanned and uploaded 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. The examiners normally have a button they can click to expand the view, but its default is switched off, so 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.