Set up and adjust exam preparation courses

You need to prepare your students for an exam? This can be uncharted territory. Exam preparation courses are different from regular teaching, both in the goals and in their management.

Regular teaching aims to equip learners with skills either required by real life or by a curriculum. Exam preparation courses, by contrast, aim to equip learners both with skills required by a curriculum (of the particular exam) and with exam strategies.

Regular courses are managed in general methodological terms such as class size and composition, interaction patterns, amount of input and its ratio against practice. Exam preparation courses need to be managed in terms that directly relate to the specific goal achievement, namely passing the exam. This means that some pedagogical aspects will be left aside to the benefit of building and drilling exam-relevant skills. Group work, for instance, widely popular in regular teaching, will not be given much weight, for example, in an exam preparation course for reading skills. But as a course manager, the teacher must above all be able to set up the preparation course in the optimal configuration of what is to be learnt under the given circumstances of the class – where the students start in their preparation, and the time available to take students from A to B, namely from where they are now to the required, exam level. Very often these real-life parameters do not suit the exam preparation optimally, usually because time is too short, or the students’ entry level (at the start of the preparation course) is too low. What to do then?

This visual presents an algorithmic, or systematic, approach to the teacher’s decision making process in such cases. What refers, in the visual, to “language training” can in fact be extended to any “subject training”. The core statement is that any exam preparation course consists of two components – subject, and exam training – which are balanced against each other in an interplay with the three key parameters of entry level, exam level, and preparation time.


parameters involved in adjusting exam preparation to the given time of student level