Exam technique and remote teaching

We have been remote teaching for nearly two months and whether you are still reviewing old topics or covering new content, students need to complete practice exam questions to support subject content.

In class it is typical practice to model how to answer particular questions and then get students to complete their own. You are then there to support individuals and take the class through reviewing their work. However, this is tricky to do remotely.

One way that I have tried to overcome this is to create a question tree to guide students through the process of attempting exam questions on their own. The aim of this being that over time this becomes autonomous and they are naturally following this sort of process to review their performance.

A few things to note:

1. I have used this with Year 10 pupils who are relatively novice when it comes to answering GCSE questions

2. The whole lesson was focused on exam technique and was at the end of a topic. This was done so that it is clear that I am teaching them the skill of answering questions effectively rather than reviewing subject content through answering questions.

3. The approach is deliberately structured to be a slow process with lots of reflection. This helps build the students’ metacognitive skills and their confidence.

Question tree – exam technique

To guide students through using this question tree I created a lesson video of me modelling its use. I did this for a couple of different types of questions (for example: extended answer, data questions, basic recall and calculations) and also explained why each step was important.

Of course, when seeing the content of the virtual lesson, students would be very tempted to just skip to answering the exam questions with the mark scheme. However, I asked my students to initially note down the answers to the question tree in their books before answering the exam question. Therefore, when they email me evidence of their class work I am able to see that, even if just for a few questions, they have followed the process. Although this is a very explicit and detailed way to do this due to the independent nature of remote teaching, it follows the general way we have approached answering exam questions in lessons together.

To help students reflect on their performance I have created a second question tree to help them through the process. It is common for students to mark their answers and just move on. This structured approach takes students on a journey for reflecting on both gaps in their subject knowledge and also any procedural skills they may need to review. Again, in our virtual lesson I modelled this process and explained why we were taking the time to do it.

Question tree – reflection

Remote teaching isn’t easy and can be time consuming. Hopefully this is one resource that can be used to help bridge the gap between learning in the classroom and learning at home.

Update – student work

Here is an example of work that a student has handed in after completing my question tree lesson whilst remote learning at home. This was the first time she had used it so over time the reflection will become more specific but this is a great first try!