Geoff Richards

Review until they are blue in the face

Approaches to pre-test or exam review


I wrote an article last year about the importance of regular review work and how much it helps students to retain the material that you teach them and, let's face it; we are in the retention business.

Last term I decided to go one step further and planned my lessons out so that I had a weeks worth of review time both sides of the festive period.

The test results were stunning and this is definitely a practice that I intend to continue and enhance.

During the first week, I led my P1 to 4 students through one of two units a day, using the textbook as support.

Never forget the golden rule of review work: what may seem incredibly repetitive to you is very stimulating for students because they know what all of the questions and answers mean and they're communicating in a foreign language.

During the second week, I had them lead me through the textbook for the first two days. For the following three, I led them through the units without textbook support. The brighter students, as usual, were fantastic but I was able to identify those that needed visual cues [not textbooks] in front of them.

Fortunately, I use Oxford's "Let's Go" which comes with a range of flashcards. The slower students bit the bait straight away.

Each class I teach has to sit three separate tests: reading/comprehension, grammar/structure and spelling/vocabulary.

I write the test papers and make sure that everything I put in them is covered during the review classes. I avoid trick questions because they aren't fair and don't really achieve anything other than lower test results.

It really is that simple and it feels great when your weakest students don't completely fail anymore, when your average students start to score around the 14/20 mark and your best students get 19/20 and 20/20.

I gave them pre- and post review games during each class. One: to warm them up, two: as a reward for good work.

Give this approach a try. It really works!




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