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How to use past papers to ace exams!

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

Some students find past papers daunting, however, using them as a useful tool can really change how we use them to our advantage. Do not worry about the results of past papers - it is only an indicator on how to move forward and plan revision schedules. Please do not let the worry take up precious study time. The key is to get going and push yourself. Once you have started…there’s no turning back.

The key is to start past papers early (not the final couple of weeks before the exam). Students who I mentor will know that when we get to finish off the learning journey stage before revision we have a full on conversation about the process of past papers.

1. Do every past paper twice - the first time to get into the actual paper and work out what areas you need work on and the second time to really pull the answer together in a timely way with structure.

You will get far more out of the paper if you really break the areas down without rushing the first time and then change the tempo the second time around!

2. Marking Schemes- What is the question worth? This is such a good indicator on how to plan the answer and how much time you need.

3. Key terms - almost all questions will need you to mention key terms and dates - this will get you the basic marks which often students miss out. With exam nerves pumping it is easy to quickly turn over the paper and rush just to give you that ‘phew’ moment that the question is something you can answer! - Please do not rush. This is vital to get these easy marks under your belt before you have even started.

4. Get familiar with the structure

- Is the paper divided into sections

- Are there choices

- Are you comfortable with all the topics mentioned in the past paper

5. Examiners Reports- Always have the examiners report to hand. This will identify common mistakes made by students before you. You will then know to avoid them. It will also identify areas you need to work on so you can put extra hours into the weak areas. Use the examiners report as a really good revision tool- use highlighters and make notes on the report.

6. Teach the paper - My students know I am a lover of teaching! After you have completed the past paper - stand up, pull your sleeves up and get teaching!! Teach each answer to the question as if you were teaching a student. Really make the student feel at ease.

To make sure you are organised with the correct methods and a learning journey plan ready for your next exam please do get in touch via my website - planning ahead is so important and minimises anxiety leading up to exams

Keep positive and remember to be persistent!

Merinda x


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