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Reading Girls' School

Reading Girls' School

Weekly Newsletter

7 December newsletter

Principal’s Message - The importance of timed questions as a revision technique

Whenever, I talk about RGS, I never stop emphasising how conscientious and hard-working our girls are compared to any other school that I have worked in.  In our 1-2-1 personal tutoring sessions last week, we learned a great deal about how our year 11 girls are revising for their GCSE exams.

What we have noticed is sometimes how fearful they can be to let go of rote learning and regurgitating notes. This is a form of pseudo-knowledge. There is a significant difference between learning and understanding. What has become apparent amongst year 11 is that when revising, some pupils don’t practise past paper questions or those who do, don’t practise against the clock.  A good general tactic to adopt is ‘a-mark-a-minute’. For example, for a 10 mark question, allocate 10 minutes to answering that question.  Practising against the pressure of the clock builds confidence for the actual exams themselves.  Pupils should never enter an exam without practising past paper questions against the clock as a fundamental part of their revision.  

Indeed quite often, Marathon runners will in the final weeks of their training before the Marathon, compete 28-29 miles. They then take this increased self-confidence into the race that they have actually ran a longer distance in training.  Similarly, professional boxers in their training schedules build up to 13 rounds of sparring in preparation for the actual boxing match. 

One half of the battle of GCSEs is of course developing the knowledge but of equal importance is the competence of articulating that knowledge onto an exam script under timed pressure.  Practising answering past paper questions, will breathe familiarity and thus self-confidence.  By using a mark scheme to then mark the question, it will also provide students with feedback of what they actually know compared to what they think they know. 

The next round of Year 11 Mocks begin on 7th January 2019.  Can I therefore ask year 11 parents, and indeed year 9 and 10, to encourage the girls to use this technique between now and the second mock series.  You could get involved by marking the question with her against a mark scheme for example or operating the stop watch. 

Jon Gargan, 



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