Sharing a long list of possible questions with students in advance of a test in exam conditions is a simple way of ensuring their revision and reflection is focused and effective.

When I tell my students that a forthcoming lesson will be a timed essay or a structured question based on their recent studies, I make a particular point of sharing with them a list of possible questions that have come up in previous examination papers. I also promise them that the question(s) chosen will be taken directly from that list. Students are then given homework time to reflect on how they might approach each and every question if it turns out to be the one selected. In the following lesson, we spend time discussing approaches to particular questions which they are less confident about. The test then takes place the following lesson.

From my experience, this is more effective than simply announcing that ‘next lesson we will be having a test on this topic’ and leaving them to revise in an unfocused manner. By giving students a ‘long list’ of questions they end up preparing much more thoroughly and from many more angles than they otherwise would have done. Moreover, they are able to spot their areas of weakness and have a chance to develop and improve their understanding of these before the test takes place.

Here is an example from a recent test I conducted with my IGCSE students about the Origins of World War One.

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