School is done!!! reports are written and farewells given to departing colleagues.

As I reflect on the 150 scripts I marked I thought it useful to share some of my observations. I marked TZ1 but I feel my comments have relevance for all.

At the end of the examiners report that all assistant examiners have to write, there is a section asking for “Recommendations and guidance for the teaching of future candidates”. Invariably I have, and continue to mention a lack of comprehension of command terms. It is the one stand out feature when marking and is most obvious when it comes to the data based questions which in my experience, students find challenging; the section of the paper when students have to think rather than simply recall all those facts they packed into their head the night before. Try it yourself… define the following terms and distinguish between them; Deduce, Discuss, Evaluate.

How did you get on???

The second area in which students lack proper exam technique was with the command term “Compare“. Writing a comparison of spermatogenesis and oogenesis by simply describing the one and then the other does not constitute “Compare”. Its simply account of each. Students must take each point in turn and look at its relevance for both processes. Ask your students to compare Justin Bieber and Rihanna and see what transpires.

These points may not revolutionize a students grade, but what they will do is help insure its not their comprehension or vocabulary that is preventing them from attaining the highest grade their potential allows, but instead their understanding of the concepts or their knowledge base.

So… “Recommendations and guidance for the teaching of future candidates” include;

  • Focus on Command terms and make them part of the classroom experience. Give end of unit tests with a copy of the terms, why not test the definitions of terms? include the definitions in your data based questions you give to students to help familiarize them with the terms.
  • Emphasize the technique for answering a Comparison question and be strict with your marking.