We’re deep into revision time for Year 11 as they approach their GCSEs. So I’m treating the whole year group to a chance to watch me complete last year’s Chemistry paper in what is commonly called a “Walking, Talking Mock”. This involves a visualiser to project the paper and what I write onto it onto the main front screen in our large open hall. Students sit at their individual exam desks, in their allocated seating plan to give them a real feel of being in an actual exam. Students can see on the screen what I write in real time as I talk about the thought processes which take place that lead me to the correct answers. Students write their own responses onto their own copy of the paper which gives them a chance to experience, as close as possible, the feeling of completing an exam and knowing how to answer everything.
Done well, this can be a fantastic revision activity. It enables students to see not only what the correct responses are, but more importantly how to arrive at them. It also gives an opportunity for me to indicate some of the common errors and pitfalls to avoid along the way. Students report getting a huge amount of benefit from the activity.
So, in preparation for this activity, I will always complete a copy of the paper beforehand. I’ll make little notes in the margins as I read through the mark scheme and examiner’s report. I go way over the top, making every decision I make as clear and explicit as possible, and pointing out where last year’s students lost marks.
I would urge every teacher do this for their classes. If not for a whole year group then certainly for each class. I would also urge all students to ask their teachers to do one. It has a huge impact.
Not only that, but I’ve secretly enjoyed completing the exam papers!
Does that make me odd?