8 ways to get students ready for exams

8 ways to get students ready for exams

Chloe Marie and Bez Tran, School Success Managers - Edrolo

You’ve just flown through Term 1, are ankle deep in Term 2 and have now just realised that mid-year exams are around the corner- yikes! Here we will unpack 8 strategies to get your students exam-ready, by building their capacity to reflect on where they’re at, where they’re going, and how they can get there.

Enclosed are a number of teacher-guided and student-led revision strategies that will help your students maximise their marks.

Teacher-guided revision activities

Before we dive in, let’s clarify what we mean by teacher-led revision. I must emphasise that teacher-led revision is guided by the teacher but is still student-centred. In this way, you may decide what your students are revising and when, but it is informed and allows space for students to make decisions about their learning. The aim here is to ensure each student is getting exactly what they need, when they need it and in the format that makes most sense to them.

1. Planned and regular retrieval practice

To ensure that we minimise the act of forgetting, come back to revisit topics on a regular basis. Whilst this may seem like a time consuming endeavour, it could be as simple as revisiting a multiple choice question, asking your students to ‘brain dump’ all they can remember about a topic in 1 minute, or even rewrite an old question response. For some Edrolo textbook subjects, you could even use the questions from multiple lessons as part of your retrieval planning. For a deeper dive into retrieval practice, see our quick guide

An example Question from multiple lessons in an Edrolo VCE textbook

Regular rehearsal of content helps to ensure that students commit things to long-term memory, and it also helps to retrieve information more easily for next time. Quite literally, if you don’t use it, you lose it!

2. Data-informed practice

Data informed practice involves collecting meaningful data throughout students' learning journey, analysing it to determine individual and whole class learning needs, and making an informed decision about the differentiated activities that will support students.

There are different data insights you receive on the Edrolo platform:

  • Video lesson data - the amount of video lessons watched, average quiz score, students’ self reflection
Edrolo data dashboard showing students' use and results for a course

  • Progress check/topic test/exam data - class averages, individual student average, each students’ responses to multiple choice and short answer questions 
Edrolo data showing average class and student results

  • Individual student progress and achievement data

An example of an individual students' progress and achievement data on Edrolo

Collectively, this data can help you to pinpoint difficult concepts and questions to revisit, highlight misconceptions and determine planned interventions or extension activities.

Student-led revision activities

In this context, we refer to student-led revision as study that is independently guided by students as individuals. Students are still able to collaborate when doing this, but will independently choose their revision focus. Rather than throw your students in the deep-end, there are a range of activities that can help support you students to do this. 

3. Rate yourself targeted revision

Set your students up for effective revision by ensuring they routinely and engage honestly with the Edrolo self-rating tool at the end of each video. 

Students can come back and revisit this to get a visual representation of where they should be targeting their revision time. This is important as many students struggle with studying an entire semester’s worth of work and often end up studying things they are already confident with. 

An example of student self-ratings on the platform

Here, you can direct your students to start revising concepts they have rated themselves 1’s or 2’s, before progressing up to 3’s and 4’s. Once a student has revisited content, they can change their rating on the platform. This strategy will give you a more focussed class, and a clearer path to improved outcomes!

4. Follow up on or add to Notes

Throughout the year, you may have encouraged your students to utilise the Edrolo notebook to take note of any questions, thoughts or key ideas. 

Students can use the notebook feature to record ideas, reflections and notes about lessons

Revisiting this can be a great starting point during revision time as it gives students something to follow up on and action. See some activities outlined below:

Some activities students can use their notes for to support their revision

5. Practice Assessments- Progress Checks, Topic Tests and Exams

Give students exposure to regular practice with practice assessments under test conditions. The Edrolo progress checks can be used for more regular bite-sized practice tasks, whereas the topic tests and exams can be used to simulate assessment conditions. The beauty of these is that they are fully flexible- you can lock and unlock tasks to control when you would like your students to be able to access them, complete them online or print them off to do on paper, get students to complete them in class or at home!

6. Student self marking

All of Edrolo's questions and assessments come with layers of feedback to help your students reflect on their responses, improve their responses and get unstuck.

In particular, students often have difficulty answering short answer and extended response questions- particularly when they are worth more than 4 marks! More often than not, this is because they find it difficult to unpack what a question is asking them, articulate their responses or apply their understanding to an unfamiliar scenario.

To develop these skills,  we recommend students self-mark their responses. Students are provided with the following tools for every short answer and extended response question on the Edroloplatform to assist them to self mark:

  • A video solution where the experienced teacher unpacks the question. This includes key terms/verbs (how they should respond), content words (what they are writing about) and mark allocation (where marks are allocated).
  • A suggested solution which explicitly demonstrates what a high-scoring response looks like for students.
  • A marking rubric that breaks down the key points students need to make to receive the allocated mark for each part of the question.

This self marking provides an opportunity for students to see where they are at (their response), where they would like to be (hopefully, the suggested solution) and more importantly, how they get there (using the video solution, suggested solution and marking rubric). Like a muscle, the more they practise this skill, the better they will get at tackling the short answer and extended response questions.

An example video solution to help students self-mark

An example suggested solution and marking rubric

7. Concept-mapping the Syllabus/Study Design

This is as it sounds! Print off the Edrolo Unit plan (which is already mapped to the relevant curriculum), and get your students to concept map certain topics that they have studied. They should be able explain key concepts, include definitions and draw arrows, and give explanations for relationships or links between concepts. 

You could also use the 3 pen method where they:

  • Write everything they know in one colour
  • Add from their notes with a second colour
  • Add from any other resources in a third colour

An example Edrolo unit plan, which teachers can use to get students to concept map topics they've studied

Use the 3 pen method to help students concept map topics they've studied

The benefit of this for students is that it makes visible to them what they find easy to recall independently and where they might need to invest more time in study.

8. Level-up responses

A common theme year after year is that students struggle to articulate their understanding in short answer and/or extended response questions. 

To scaffold this skill for students, you can run this activity as follows:

  • Students complete a short answer/extended response question under timed conditions, with no notes in a coloured pen.
  • Once the time is up, the students can level-up their original response using their notes or the Edrolo video using a different coloured pen

For example:

Describe ONE ethical consideration that could influence this business’s marketing. (2 marks)

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