Last year I wrote about my five columns of exam success and how I like to help students to go into their GCSE Maths exams with their game face on.

This year I’m still holding on to those fundamental principles, but I’m changing the way I work with them in the run up to exams.

Last year, I started six weeks before the exam and broke the spec into six chunks. We covered one chunk per week and used about a third of the lesson time to do it.

This year I’m going to more subtle (and hopefully more effective) in the way I build up to the exams.

I’m going to combine my fledgling knowledge of Google Docs and Exampro to develop individual question papers for my classes. I reckon it will be six to 12 papers per class and it should take about five minutes to make each one.  I’ll make them self-marking exercises and, with a bit of leg work at the beginning in naming the files, it should be fairly self-sustaining.

I’ll be using these new questions for the various tracking tests and deploying the same reward stickers they got in year three at primary school for encouragement.

Alongside that I’m going to be trying to develop the other aspects of good exam prep.

Rob, my current ITT trainee, has come up with an approach he calls ‘one big hit early’. He likens it to a big tackle in rugby.  It’s something the teams do to really let the other team know that you’re in the game, taking part, rattling the bars.

He encourages his pupils to take the same attitude to their lessons. One big hit early in the lesson sets up the rest of the lesson and gets it on the right track.

Children playing rugby
What do you do to help students get their game face on for lessons or exams?

I’m a fairly experienced teacher, so if I see something working I’m keen to steal it, use it and then blog about it as if it’s my own idea (ahem).

So I’ve been on the trawl for those ‘big hit’ opportunities for my foundation and higher paper students, and these are two of my favourites.

I forgot to use Craig Barton’s collection of diagnostic questions last year, despite being really impressed with his presentation at the maths conference.  I’ll definitely not being over-looking those this year.

I also quite often find myself clicking about in the growing collection of Core Maths resources, which have been really useful with my higher groups. And the site is looking very slick.

The 100 metres exercise (on the Statistics page) was really interesting to help identify misconceptions on plotting graphs and developing the language of causation and correlations. The students found it helpful too.

I’ll let you know how we get on at the end of the year. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about any confidence-boosting activities that you use with your students in the pre-exam period.