Preparing for an Exam

According to Peter Watkins “There is no great shift in teaching methodology when teaching exam classes”. This is certainly true but it’s also worth doing research and stay tuned-in getting recent papers and exam reports to be able to guide your learners and give them relevant feedback on their performance. Teachers have to deal with lack of language proficiency and work on familiarising learners with the structure of an exam and task types. Do you think that will be enough?

Although I believe those are essential ingredients, it is vitally important to work on improving study skills and time-management strategies so that they can work efficiently and be successful. Here are some tips we can give our learners:

  • Make sure you fully understand the task types and what strategies to use for each of them. You will have to demonstrate a clear understanding of questions and an ability to give relevant answers presented in a logical way.
  • Take time to read the instructions carefully. Don’t rush through the tasks as you may miss something important in the rubric. Identify the aim of the task, its parts and the criteria to be able to get enough credits and achieve the desired results.
  • Be realistic about the amount of work you need to do on a regular basis. Regular revision breaks and finding a few minutes for reading and doing some homework seem to be more effective than studying for a few hours once a week. Creating a to-do list and keeping a reflective journal will let you track your progress and reflect on your learning experience.
  • Be open to constructive criticism and try to work on the areas your teacher highlights to you. Studying is fun if you know what your goals are and what you need to improve. Consider creating a checklist to be able to proofread your written work and assess your speaking skills.
  • One of the ways to keep up with your progress is reflecting, going back over your notes and summarising what you have learnt recently. This is a good habit and an effective way of revision and consolidation while using English in a natural way.

Helping learners make the most of their study is never easy and we need to motivate and support them as preparing for an exam is demanding and their motivation and dedication cannot be taken for granted. Life is full of distractions and different types of commitments, which makes it hard to focus on only English lessons or exam preparation. There are a few things teachers can do.

First, teach your learners to find time for studying regularly. Help them reflect and promote meaningful activities outside the classroom taking into account learners’ preferences and needs. You can suggest some ways of record keeping, using a learning system that might work for them or offer them options when setting homework.

What can be done outside class time? They can read books, articles on the internet on a variety of topics. I’m sure they’ll enjoy reading online articles related to their personal interests but you can also help them explore new genres and topics. Other activities that you can offer can be watching videos, listening to podcasts and revising vocabulary using applications like Quizlet.

Do you think the learners expect you to give feedback? Of course, they do! Highlight what they are good at, what they need to work on, and comment on both their progress and effort. Learners usually respond well to praise and encouragement, which positively affects their attitude and motivation.

Some useful sources for those who want to teach exam classes: