Adapting Question Papers

05Jul10

 The problem with past exam papers is that they cover everything. Or should. This is great at the end of a course but not so useful part way through. I’ve recently produced several more targeted resources for my students using past papers in a slightly different way and thought it might be worth sharing.

I always try to get my students checking their own understanding, using various ticklists and audits. This means that those who take it seriously end up with a list of priorities. They pointed out that finding practice questions for those specific areas is fairly time-consuming, especially if they want realistic exam-style material. My solution was to look back at the oldest past papers and extract relevant questions for each area, copying them from the pdfs with the photo tool and pasting them into a Publisher document. On average I was able to fit three higher level questions or four foundation on to a double-sided document, with the markscheme included so they could check their answers. It was even possible to include the answers upside-down, like on a crossword puzzle, so they could ignore them while working.

Printable: c1a pracQs atoms as pdf

These targeted worksheets were made available through the school VLE, meaning that students could access them from home when it suited them rather than having to remember to collect them. What I’m planning to do next time is to offer rewards for pupils who produce their own versions and make them available to their classmates. I already try to get them to share revision material with friends, but there’s no reason the files they produce couldn’t be uploaded to the VLE, anything from mind maps (produced through MindMeister or Bubbl.us) to revision cards. 

We currently teach the AQA Science A syllabus which is tested by multiple choice module papers in Year 10. I was looking for material to produce a homework sheet but wanted to include something other than multiple choice questions. The other resources on our network didn’t have anything appropriate, and I wanted a document I could make available to the kids through the VLE. I was on the point of starting to write my own questions when I remembered the alternative AQA Science B course. It covers the same material (as far as I can tell) but instead of assessing Year 10 biology in two multiple choice module exams, B1a and B1b, it’s a single mixed question exam, B1. Now, leaving aside the issue about this being a much more effective way of testing students, I much prefer more open questions for homework. It saves kids guessing in form time and then claiming they struggled for ages before getting them all wrong. It’s also much more revealing about their areas of weakness (or strength, to be fair).

So my students’ homework this week is a double-sided pdf, saved from Publisher, made up of two questions from an exam they’re not doing. This one doesn’t have the answers, but I have copied the markschemes to a separate sheet. They’ll be using this to mark each other’s questions next lesson, then we’ll summarise the lessons to be learned. I suspect that I could write the feedback ahead of time – more detail needed and particularly better use of key terms.

Printable: P1b pracQs red shift as pdf : P1b pracQs red shift ms as pdf

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