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Need advice on: Exam Preparations for your learners
#1
I would like to gather some information for some research I am doing.

What do you do to help your learners prepare for their final exams, Theory and Practical?


What tips do you provide to the learners?

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Matthew Hains
Tech Teachers
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#2
THEORY

I've started giving theory homework from past exams rather than the textbook questions. Then we discuss the homework in quite a lot of detail - with regards to misunderstandings and the right way to answer questions in full. I'll have to see what the first terms' theory results look like before I can tell you whether it works, but my gut says it will make quite a difference. 

Very important that in the DBE they mark all the answers - so if a question asked for two advantages, but the learner wrote four, they will continue marking even if the first two were wrong. Not all subjects work like this of course, but ours do, so I teach my kids from the start that they should always go back if they have time (after finishing the test) and write another characteristic/advantage/disadvantage etc. where the question allowed for this. 

Another thing I find helps is to mark using full mark symbols, half mark symbols and a ^ (thanks to Marika Dunn for this technique)
  • Full mark for a good answer. 
  • Half a mark to indicate that they were on the verge of losing the mark because it was poorly answered - however, since we don't give half marks, it still counts a full mark, it just shows the learner to reconsider the way they answered.
  • The ^ to show that they were on the right track, but didn't get the mark because more information was necessary. I also use this to show the learner when they didn't get the second or third mark for a question that counted more. 
This helps them to go through their answers in a bit more detail and really learn from their mistakes. 

PRACTICAL

For practical I've made the Practical Activities for revision purposes which I use for all grades during class time (for the learners who finish first) but especially for revision before tests and exams. I've also decided to focus the Gr 12 content for tests. In the past I used to tell them they write about everything from Gr 10 & 11 plus specific Gr 12 work, now I rather give them specific areas to focus on for past grades e.g. section breaks and page numbers, electronic forms and so forth. I hope this will prompt them to do revision on those topics in preparation for the tests. 

Before I made those activities I just used past national exam papers for revision. However, I find that kids don't get everything right, or they think they get it right but they don't. So I've started making videos of the exams to try to help them. When I get time to make them nice and professional, I post them on my YouTube channel, otherwise I sometimes just make them in Powerpoint - it's amazing how quick and easy it is to do screen recordings with commentary on Powerpoint - you also really don't need the top specs in your PC. 

I've started making videos for each practical test (as far as possible), to use afterward so that kids can go through their tests and learn from their mistakes. Most importantly, they should learn from their mistakes - whether doing videos or looking at it in class time.

Lastly, I get kids to answer the paper in any order - I work out their percentages per package in their exams, so they know which ones are their strong points. So each learner gets to work out their own 'order of attack'. Of course I also encourage them to skip (but mark) questions they don't get right straight away. If they have time, they can then go back to the questions they didn't get right. 

For the really weak learners (<30%), I fine tune the 'order' strategy further: HTML, then Word, the table question in Access, then move on to Excel. l tell them it helps looking at the length of a question in Excel. The formatting questions are always first (which they have to do), then they skip to the short questions and see what they can do in the graph question. If they have time after this they can go back to the rest of the Access (Report first) and the rest of the Excel questions.
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#3
Thanks so much for your input Claire!

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Matthew Hains
Tech Teachers
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