There’s a reason (in fact, here’s the top 5 reasons) why your teachers always encourage you to use past papers as part of your revision.
1. Get used to the structure of a paper and the language they use.
You’re probably already used to the vocabulary from learning in the classroom, but it’s good to get yourself familiarised with past papers so you know how everything is laid out and on exam day you don’t stress out over it.
In some exams, some extra information might be printed in the paper such as equations for sciences and mathematics, again it’s good to know where these will be in the paper.
Once you’ve done a couple of past papers you know the layout of the questions. Generally, the paper will start with lower mark questions and work up, but it’s good to know so that you don’t write an essay long answer for a 2 mark question and not have enough time for a 10 mark question later in the paper.
2. Work on your time management
If it’s possible, it’s best to practice completing the paper under exam circumstances, find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed. The benefits of completing the paper this way, is that you can work out how much time you will have for each question. You can even ask a parent, sibling or friend to act as an invigilator to tell you how much time you have left.
3. Understand the allocation of marks and marking scheme
From our website you can also download a marking scheme for each past paper, this way you can mark your own work and see where the marks lie.
You will understand the different types of answers that are required and can use this to structure your answers. Using the marking scheme, you can refine your answering skills and ultimately save yourself time in your exam.
4. Good way to practice writing
If your revision notes are all in bullet points, then completing past papers is a good way to practice putting that information you have learnt in to paragraphs. Being able to communicate your knowledge clearly is just as important as knowing the knowledge itself.
Once you’ve finished a paper, you can mark your own work using the marking scheme and then analyse your result.
Doing this, you can determine what areas of the subject you are confident in answering and where you might need to spend more time revising. This way you can keep on top of your revision and change your timetable accordingly.
Don’t be disheartened if after completing past papers you don’t do as well as you think you should. These are practice papers and a great learning exercise for the big day. Learn from what you do wrong and try again.
If you don’t know where to find the past papers on our website, follow this link and search for your subject and level.