This section contains useful suggestions for preparing teenagers for speaking components in the exam.
Do not leave speaking English out of your lessons
Encourage students to use English as much as possible. This is probably the most stressful part of the exam as they are faced with a stranger and are expected to have a conversation. They won’t be able to just learn a few lines of English to use in the exam. Nothing will substitute for regular oral practise.
Plan your exam preparation programme backwards from the exam
If the exams are in June, plan how you can spread preparation classes over the term(s), beginning in January (or before if possible). Ensure that all lessons are not dedicated to the exam, but that you continue language development and fun lessons too, as well as covering the required units in the course book.
Review and practice reading skills
Review and practice skills
Review and practice listening skills
Review and Practice oral skills and go over exam skills
A typical week in March:
Vocabulary quizzes on adjectives and practise brainstorming for a sample essay
Punctuation exercises and read a funny short story and discuss what made it good
Write a sketch/ dialogue and act it out
Descriptive paragraph writing in groups on OHTs - for class correction
Students design quizzes/games to test each other's vocabulary based on the book units they have covered
The course book can be covered by doing some of it in each lesson or dedicating 2 or 3 lessons a week to it, plus the following, which do not have to be very long activities.
Make sure that each lesson has variety
Plan an exam preparation sandwich - start with a light-hearted quiz about language items covered previously and finish with a fun game. These quizzes and games are not a waste of time, but another way of revising language items or skills that may come up in the exam.
You can use games and quizzes as warmers at the start of a lesson to revise key vocabulary and grammar items. Also you can get students to work in groups and design quizzes for each other – here you double the revision, as students need to check the language while preparing the quiz and then practise it while doing the quizzes set by their classmates. Also this minimises the work you do – your job is to monitor and help students while they prepare and do the quizzes.
You can download an example of a vocabulary quiz from the bottom of this page. To help students work quickly under time pressure, you could set a time limit for the quiz.
Key considerations in exam preparation are:
- Reduce the stress
- Make it success-oriented
- Make it as much fun as possible
- Make clear what skills/strengths are needed in the exam
- Break down and practise individual skills
You can download the whole article on preparing teenagers for exams in the related articles section below.