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Discussion in 'Secondary' started by msuxg, Mar 29, 2016.
Tom Husband says he's going to stop assigning them: http://rsc.li/1MPoTVg
Putting it bluntly - yes! Their parents as well ...
I think that past exam questions are an incredibly valuable resource. As we have finished the course content, I do revision for most of the lesson followed by one exam question each lesson. It helps them grasp exam technique and understand what is expected of them during the exam.
I wouldn't stop assigning them. I might ask pupils not to do them except in class. The value of past papers (beyond the one where they discover that 45 minutes isn't very much time to write and essay and that yes, it helps if you know the material) is in the discussion of their answers and sample answers against the mark scheme. That helps them to understand WHY an answer is correct and the marks awarded. Slavishly doing paper after paper without actually understanding the marks is useless.
Occasionally students feel that if they know which questions are likely to appear it gives them a false 'safety-net' which can't overcome deficits in knowledge.
I totally agree and in my experience that's why a lot of students fail to get the grades that they should get! That said, I also make it clear to my students that question spotting is a no-no!
From what's said on this forum, it seems students are far keener on this than they used to be. But the internet surely changes things?
Past paper practice is useful so the students can get used to the format of the test, realise the gaps in their knowledge, practice using the key words and realise the depth of detail needed for explanatory answers.
Often, the ones most in need of practice were the least likely to do any!
My bugbear with entry level functional skills maths is the lack of practice resources for these most insecure students.
The difficulty comes when they set about learning the mark schemes and then repeat them word-for-word in the next year's, different, questions!
Or, when a student copies down what is written in the mark scheme as his/her answer. I went mad when I caught a student doing this (when I had just joined my workplace, so had only taught this student for a couple of lessons). Now, I NEVER let the students see the mark scheme or model answers BEFORE they've practised the paper.
I find them extremely helpful but do limit the mark scheme until after they have practised it. In my subject - Latin/Classics- there are two unseen papers (changing to one from 2018), which are translation and comprehension, so frequent practice is essential at this stage (we've already done loads of revision), so we work on accuracy (plus if there is still some wobbly bits, I can do revision on a specific grammar topic).
I had a student who brought up her A2 grade by 3 levels by doing loads of essay outlines of any potential type of question, we even met the morning of the exam for a pep talk and spent an hour doing a possible essay on the white board; a similar essay DID come up and I was delighted for her.
So, using past papers can be a force for good if they are used creatively and wisely.
a link to a mathematical discursion - that you won't find
(a sphere is submerged 2/3rds its volume)
this came up in one of my old exam papers - revealing that tests are testing
To not do past paper questions and the associated skills needed therein would be unfair.
I think past paper questions are very important and useful. I think some (many?) teachers have forgotten what it is like to have to sit an exam and are far too close to the exam questions and formats. That is why they mistakenly think children can cope with them, when in reality they are very frightening. Don't forget, full exam questions come right at the end of a particular topic and then the student has to whizz on to the next topic or worse still the actual exam itself. School must be quite a blur for many children. It certainly was for me.
It is NOT about teaching to the exam or encouraging the student to learn answers by rote. That is where the teacher and the exam question setter have to do their bit and make sure that doesn't happen. The classroom teacher has to be sympathetic to their student's needs and prepare them for the exam situation so that they can demonstrate their grasp of the subject to the best of their ability.
Unless they have found them on the Internet. Let's face it, if the student does not have the intelligence to realise that copying mark schemes is not only wasting time but also removing the value of doing the paper, there is not a lot we can do about it.
I do think that in Maths, doing plenty of past papers is a good way of finding gaps in understanding which need to be filed, and mark schemes show just what is needed to gain method marks. Of course, I always tried to tell them anyway.
Depressing moment in February, where a Year 12 girl said "are there any past papers on the internet? I'd like to start doing some."
This is for the linear A-Level, with no exams til June 2017...
Would you prefer that they didn't care?
I always like to know what I am working towards. It gives me more control and less stress. I can't blame pupils for wanting the same thing.
Past papers are a very useful resource if you are following the same curriculum and of course, the same exam board. It gives students a better insight into this and prepares them for their actual exams. Formats usually stay the same so it's more common to them instead of going into the exam and not understanding the process.