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Getting Through Easter

We are all making it up as we go along right now. Most students will now have been told what form their assessments will take and what content they need to be familiar with. Most students will be aware of the shape and form of their exam questions, how many there will be and when they will take place. Easter then, remains a pivotal holiday - global pandemic notwithstanding.

I am going to assume that revision is covered. We've talked about mind-mapping and timelines; about close reading and note-taking. If you're not sure about any of these skills, look back at some of my past blog posts. Instead, this is time best spent on refining your writing.

One of my lovely students has been struggling with writing for some time and it has had me puzzled. He's an incredibly hardworking and articulate student who really knows his stuff but somehow his writing never seems to reflect his capabilities. It was only after a particularly maddening session (for both him and me!) that it suddenly became clear what the problem was: he didn't want to tell me things that I already knew.

And this is a problem for so many of the best and brightest students: the answers required are ones which have already been churned out over and over again. You are writing not to reach a never before considered conclusion but to demonstrate your previous learning to an unseen reader. It is immensely frustrating to have to restate something that, by this point, seems so obvious it is barely worth uttering. And yet that is what exams are all about.

The ideal situation to be in when you reach the exam room (or whatever it is you are faced with) is a state of utter boredom with the topic. You should be prepared to engage with a question which may take a different form or focus but ultimately, what you have to say will be broadly similar to what you have said many times before.

This may well be the best possible argument for moving permanently to a teacher assessment model but that is beyond my remit so I shall simply say this: if the answer seems painfully obvious then write it down. The fact that it seems simple is testimony to your hard work in the past few months. Enjoy the experience!

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