Should exam questions be predictable?

Clio et cetera

I have over the last half term started teaching a Year 11 class for the first time in a couple of years, and I am reminded of just how much work has to be done on teaching pupils exam technique. I do not actually mind teaching exam technique: things like learning how to pace oneself, how to allocate time for marks awarded and how to plan your answers are all useful exam techniques that it is important to teach students.

What I find very frustrating, however, is that I have to teach them a number of ‘question types’ that will come up every single year. We teach OCR GCSE Modern World History and there are always questions such as

  • ‘Describe… [4 marks]’
  • ‘Explain why… [6 marks]’
  • ‘What is the message of… [7 marks]’

and so on. The mark scheme for each question type is very consistent from year to year…

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