How to make exam training more motivating and fun (27/5/2015)

A PLN for ELT Professionals

How to make exam training more motivating and fun (27/5/2015)

This summary was written by Julia Phang (@Juliacphang)


This week’s topic was How to make exam training more motivating and fun.

We agreed it comes at a good time, as it’s exam season in many schools around the world.


@GlenysHanson admitted she hated preparing students for TOEIC-type exams, and is glad she’ll never have to teach an exam class again!


@HanaTicha exploits FCE Use of English tasks, saying she can base a whole lesson around one.


@HadaLitim showed us a presentation on 56 Examples of Formative Assessment.


@naomishema suggested giving students vocab items before a practice test occasionally, as well as varying the ways of correcting practice tests to get them to do more.


@ambartosik recommended Socrative where you can make a quick quiz, typing in the questions from the exam book and students can answer the questions live.


In terms of feedback, @naomishemaI tried colour coding students’ errors, then given them charts to track whether they were making fewer errors over time, but this was too time-consuming. She said the colour-coding worked well for vocabulary and she plans to retry it again for essay writing, particulary for major or common errors. @Shaunwilden pointed out that @teflgeek did a 10-minute talk on colour coding recently.


I asked about audio feedback, following a talk I went to at IATEFL. @HadaLitim told me it works well with Evernote, and that @Marisa_C would be able to give me lots of advice on that.



@ambartosik has given audio feedback on essays which she felt worked very well, as her students felt like she was sitting with them and working through the essay together. @Glenyshanson was concerned about the time audio feedback takes, but @ambartosik said she actually found it quicker than using pen and paper. @Shaunwilden agreed with Glenys that it could initially be time-consuming, but said it gets quicker.


@muranava recommended games for TOEIC preparation, like Lizzie Pinard’s Kaboom with a twist. @HadaLitim and I agreed that group assessments can work well, especially with adult learners who feel stressed at the thought of exams. We also said that games and quizzes can help as most students like the atmosphere of competition. Hada also pointed out a list of alternative ideas for assessment arranged by skills,


@naomishema gave us an example of using videos to practise reading comprehension, saying that video is very powerful.


@Shaunwilden said he doesn’t see why exam preparation should be fun at all, and @naomishema agreed that students don’t care about fun as the exam date approaches!


@HadaLitim feels one really important thing in exam classes is building students’ confidence; making them believe they can do it.


@joannacre told us Greece is very exam-focussed. She asks her students to bring in a newspaper so they can see job adverts, which makes the test more real. She also suggested sharing other students’ success stories, and I said I give my students tips from previous successful students. @HanaTicha added that you can also tell stories of failure – not to scare current students, but to help them avoid making the same mistakes.


@HadaLitim uses Whatsapp to give feedback during lessons. She types a prompt, and the students reply, giving the weaker ones models to produce their own answers.


@HanaTicha gives students the examiner’s sheet and they test each other in pairs, using a stopwatch to increase adrenaline. @joannacre agreed that peer assessment is great for all her exam classes.


@Shaunwilden recommended Kahoot, where you can create quizzes, discussions or surveys, while @HadaLitim suggested the onion technique for speaking activities. @HanaTicha uses a similar idea, but with a horseshoe shape.


Finally, @joannacre said she gives her students a certificate to touch for good luck before their exam!


The full transcript of the chat can be found here.