• Jo

Week starting 19 October

Hi again! Welcome back to the PE blog! This week we are talking about something that I think is the MOST important part of revision and preparation for exams and something that students often ignore…marking your practice exams!!!

In my experience, marking your own practice exams is just as beneficial as actually doing the practice exam. This is where you learn how you should structure you answers, what key points you need to hit to get full marks for questions and how to build your answer from those key points. Marking practice exams shouldn’t be something you put off or have someone else do for you, it is something that takes time and that is worth putting your effort into.

While it is definitely useful to get your teacher or peers to have a look at some of your responses, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be looking over your own work and finding the areas that you can improve in. Often, when you mark your own practice exams, the points that you missed or questions that you didn’t quite ace really stick with you, whereas if others mark them it’s much easier just to focus on the actual number of marks you got. Here are my top tips for marking your own practice exams and making it a worthwhile study method!

First, I would always mark a practice exam the day after I wrote it. This way, I got to look at it with fresh eyes and read each answer that I wrote completely, without cutting corners or pretending that I remember what I meant or wrote. The reason I wouldn’t delay it any further than one day is because otherwise things seem to build up, and it becomes difficult to find the time to mark 3 or 4 practice exams, whereas if you just have 1 it is a quick and easy task. The other reason to not delay marking your practice exams for too long, is to get feedback as quickly as possible, so that you don’t keep making the same mistakes, and so you are still invested in what you wrote – you remember which areas you were worried about or which questions were more challenging, meaning you can target your attention during marking.

Second, when actually doing your practice exams, make sure you are writing your answers out fully. In full sentences. With the correct terminology. And spelling. It’s important that you get in the habit of writing you answers as you want to write them in the actual exam. Having complete answers also helps when marking your work, so that you can see if your expression needs any work or if you need to order your points differently.

Third, when marking practice exams, the most useful thing is to look at the mark allocation. Lots of answers will detail exactly where each mark in a three-mark question comes from. This information is golden to you as you work towards your exam. In PE questions seem to appear and reappear in similar formats, so learning what points are essential to get the marks in certain types of questions, such as chronic adaptations questions or LIP questions, is really valuable.

Fourth, beyond just looking at how the marks are distributed, I also found it helpful to look at how some of the answers were expressed in the example answer. Your answer does not have to be exactly the same as the example answer, as long as it hits the same key points. But it can be nice to pick up a way of wording something that you think works really well and is efficient and accurate. For example, when I was marking my practice exams, I kept missing the third mark in blood redistribution questions, until I found an answer that had the phrase ‘finite blood volume’ and fitted this into my answers. Don’t be afraid to steal some good terminology!

Fifth, it’s important to be realistic when marking your practice exams. Giving yourself marks that you’re not sure you earned is not actually being kind to yourself. If in doubt, don’t give yourself the mark and write down why you don’t think you quite got it or what you could change in your answer to make sure you get full marks. Remember that your examiners do not give half marks – so you shouldn’t either.

Sixth, go through your exam paper with a different coloured pen or highlighter when you are marking. Highlight the points that get you the marks for each question. Underline things that are important. Add in notes of any points you could have made or any alternative wording that you would like to have used.

My seventh (and final!!!) tip is to make a correction sheet. This is just a blank piece of paper that you have with you when you are marking your practice exams. On this sheet, I would write anything that I didn’t know that I learnt when marking my practice exams. These might be little things, like the finite blood capacity note, or larger areas, like fatigue in the anaerobic glycolysis system. Pop them on the sheet and then address them straight away by reviewing that area. The other thing that I would put on my tip sheet was any silly errors that I made – things I forgot to put in or just didn’t quite use correctly. By putting these on the sheet, I then knew if I was making the same mistakes more than once and could think about why that was and what I might be able to do to fix that. This sheet is important right up until your exam, use it wisely!

These are all my top tips for marking your practice exams! Hopefully now you’re feeling fully prepared to tackle your own marking pile. Next week we’re talking about how to know when you’re done with practice exams. Have fun, take care!

Have a question?

In the final weeks before exams Jo will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Jo might answer it live!

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