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This is a hot topic that has been questioned by many. Do students get better scores in exams if they practise them in class?
I have previously spoken about the need for balance in class time to avoid boredom REASONS TO LEARN A LANGUAGE and the need for an awareness of study skills STUDY SKILLS but the key question today is, ¨Should we do full exams in class?”
What is fair to say is that students want to understand how exams work. There is a huge difference in results between the students who understand the format of exams and time limits to those who do no; also if they understand how they are evaluated. It is very important to make this known to your students. What I think is a bit of a waste of time and quite frankly boring beyond reason is, just practicing exams to pass them. Repeating exams and drumming the answers into the student´s heads as if they were drones. What I reckon is the key is taking a look at the necessary skills needed to pass the exam and incorporating them into learning objectives and fun, innovative and dynamic activities that will inspire the students to progress and thus, pass the exam. Language is not about qualifications but they are a quantifiable way of seeing who can use languages and who can´t. Our jobs are a balance between exam preparation and language teaching and it is important to not be overly swayed by exams as our main goal should always be the students and ensuring they can use language. By breaking exam technique into bitesize chunks, students can develop the necessary skills to be able to later be able to apply them to exams. There has been a fair amount of research into this area and I want to include the BRITISH COUNCIL´S VIEW as it makes some valid points.
The main reason to do exam practice in class is to make sure that students improve at them. It is essential to make students aware of WHAT THEY SHOULD DO WITH EXAMS. Students need to keep a log of the types of questions that could be in the exam, the answers that they have answered correctly (with the reason why), and also the mistakes they have made. It is an essential part of class time to review exams and for the teacher to explain why students have answered incorrectly BECAUSE IF THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THEY ARE GETTING THINGS WRONG, they will never improve. STUDENTS MUST KEEP NOTES OF THEIR INCORRECT ANSWERS AND REVIEW THEM. Students must write down and review what they answer incorrectly. THE FIRST TIME YOU ANSWER SOMETHING INCORRECTLY IS A LESSON, THE SECOND TIME IS A MISTAKE!
REPETITION is also a key feature of exam practice, especially with listening. It is important to review and recycle material to ensure that students fully understand everything!
Personally, in my classes I like to develop study skills and use practical examples that can be easily linked to parts of exams that the students can later take home and use when they practice as extra (homework) activities. Students need to organise themselves to make sure that they understand all of the content in exams, because there tends to be a large volume of vocabulary.
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Here is where you can practise exams, Take a look at the resources for adults link menu and look for links to APPF, EXAM ENGLISH, ENGLISH AULA, FLO-JOE, FCE EXAM TIPS, CAE EXAM TIPS, ENGLISH-GRAMMAR, ESL-LOUNGE