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How to use your past examination papers

Past papers are the best source of revision material at this stage.

There is little point revising chapter by chapter inside out without knowing how to answer exam questions. It is also advisable to become familiar with the exam layout.

Choice on the paper should be considered.

Your past papers will show the sections of the paper and the choices within them. Bare this in mind.

Be wise with your choices. Play to your strengths, hide your weaknesses.

Also when you are practising exam questions, form a habit of reading the entire question before you start writing. This avoids the disaster of realising you cannot answer the full question 20 minutes in.

Write bullet point answers on your past exam papers. Add in mini diagrams and sketches if useful. Do not hesitate to highlight key terms in the question or make notes on the page. Approach these papers as if they are the real thing.

Be disciplined. Time yourself when tackling exam questions. Do NOT allow yourself extra time. If anything attempt to complete your answer in less time than allocated. That way the exam on the day won't seem as challenging time wise.

After completing each exam question, put yourself into the examiner's shoes and mark yourself. This exercise is invaluable. You must be aware of the breakdown of marks for each question.

For example, English Paper 1, question A, part i, is worth 15 marks. Your answer should have three distinct points. Each point is worth 5 marks. 5 marks is 1.25pc overall in English. Attention to the marking scheme should be ingrained in every answer you write.

Additionally, the marks available are an indication of the time you should spend on the question. Do not spend longer on a question worth fewer marks than another. Be strategic.

Concentrate on the sections you lost marks in and learn from them. These sections should be revised fully between now and the exam.

Finally, I strongly advise you to complete a full past paper in most of your subjects in the coming weeks. This experience will be beneficial come June.


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