Teenagers preparing for the real world test

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So you want to be a teacher? Many children around the world, especially teenagers, have to take formal English language examinations. This section provides some useful suggestions for teenagers taking exams. These may be internationally recognised exams like the Cambridge First Certificate or a local examination like the Sri Lankan O Level or Hong Kong Certificate in English.

This month we are looking at how teachers can help students do as well as they possibly can in these exams, while maintaining motivation and enjoyment in English classes. So we must attempt to build on these positive factors and reduce the negative. Exam preparation classes should not just practise doing exams but teach students examination techniques and make these transparent. Students must know what the exam includes and what the examiner is looking for. Look through old exam papers with your students.

Let them discuss what each question is testing e. Explain that examiners mark many papers and that can be a boring job. They are pleased when handwriting is tidy and easy to read and when students are imaginative. I used to mark up to 1,000 examination compositions every summer and can tell you it’s wonderful when students are truly creative and interesting. Please do not encourage students to learn model compositions by heart or even model paragraphs.

Markers can spot these immediately and students will get no marks for this. Many students lose marks by skimming over the rubric and, for example, writing more than one composition when only one is required. Will you answer all the questions? Will you spend one hour on part one? Let them call out yes or no or raise their arm if they agree with your statement. This will bring to their attention the need for careful reading.