Appy Christmas – Apps for learning

appsIt’s always interesting writing a Blog in the holidays, maybe it’s because you have more time than normal so think you should come up with something different, dare I say original. The reality is that when you have such a large canvas on which to think, you can’t think of anything!
The answer is to narrow it down, give yourself something specific to think about. So whilst staring at my ipad for inspiration, I stopped thinking about “everything”, focused on what was on my ipad and then it happened, an idea… ..Why not write about the apps I use most and how you might use them to improve your studying, so here goes.

It’s not about the technology stupid
First a disclaimer, although technology can be all absorbing, learning is a human quality, technology in many circumstances only makes learning more convenient, you still have to work at it. What it does do is provide you with the ability to study when you want and where you want. Time that would be wasted waiting for or actually on a train/bus etc can be much more effectively used learning. How good would it be if you had finished studying before you got home?

Google CalendarGoogle calendar – Helps plan your studies
I have written before about the importance of timetables and calendars. Sitting down and planning what you will study and when not only helps you become more organised it is essential for setting targets and challenges. And remember target setting is key to motivation.

Evernote Evernote – Organise and store notes
I am finding that I am using Evernote more and more. It is in effect a cloud based folder system. Consider setting up a folder for each subject you are studying. Then within each subject folder you can type notes, attach PDF’s, photos, maybe of places/objects/people relevant to that subject. You can even attach video. And if you want to collaborate with others just share the link. Maybe have a folder for revision with the questions you want to attempt linked via PDF, comment on what you found difficult and share with your friends. Evernote has so many uses.

PenultimatePenultimate – for making hand written notes and drawing mind maps
If you prefer to write rather than type, penultimate is for you, although I don’t think there is an android version at the moment. It is part of the Evernote family and links with Evernote so is easy to use. It is just like a paper based note book with a front cover showing the subject, page numbers and has a nice page turning feel. Unlike a paper based note book however, you can change the paper, plain/lined etc, save your work, add photos, and share with others. It also has a very clever way of making sure your hand when resting on the screen does not interfere with what you are writing.

Put simply it’s the best handwriting software I have come across, and comes close to replacing paper, close but not just yet….

DropboxDropbox – for file storage, back up and file sharing
Many of you will already be familiar with dropbox, it is free simple to use cloud based storage. Dropbox is great for saving/backing up all your files. This means that as long as you can get electronic versions of your text books and question banks you will be able to have them with you anywhere…

And you can share folders with friends.

Adobe ReaderAdobe reader – keep all PDF notes in one place and you can write on them!
This is just for Adobe PDF’s but as most documents can be turned into a PDF format that should not be a problem. Imagine having your notes in a PDF file, opening them up wherever you are and then updating them either by typing or writing on top of the PDF. You can also make margin notes that open up in a speech bubble, little reminders of what you were thinking, or additional work you need to look at.

Explain-EverythingExplain everything – become a teacher and teach yourself
Explain everything is a white board that you can add in pictures, shapes etc, and then the really clever part, record what you are doing in a high quality video. What makes this so good is how easy it is to use.

This would be ideal for working through a question, talking out loud explaining your thoughts (Explain everything will record your voice and your white board actions) and then when you get to the part that is difficult or simply don’t understand, ask your question out loud….? Then send the Mp4 file to your tutor/teacher or study colleagues for an answer. Unfortunately as with Penultimate I don t think there is an android version just yet.

twitterTwitter – limitless knowledge and support
Twitter can get a bad press when it comes to studying, it can be very distracting! But if used properly it can be great. The key is to follow people that have answers to your problems or are like you. If you are studying accountancy for example you will find lots of tweets from experts providing you with up to date news and information often linking to more in depth guidance, websites/PDF’s etc. Twitter is the most up to date text book you can get.

Okay a word of warning; just make sure you are not too far ahead of you teachers and the exam. Also that the people you are following are credible.
The other use is to follow fellow students who are studying the same subjects as you, it can be very reassuring that you are not the only ones who doesn’t understand something.

The big secret to twitter is is very selective who you follow, delete people that are not helping and keep the list down to about 200.

Mobile
Most of these are accessible on all mobile devises and for me that is the real benefit of the technology.

Happy 2013 and more apps
Hope you are all having a good Xmas and here’s to 2013, what will be new this time next year I wonder?

Related articles

Seped rdeiang – speed verses comprehension

Woody Allen on speed reading

I was asked recently by a student if there was anything they could do to speed up the way that they read. As a student there are many situations where it would be great if you could read more quickly.

Chunking

Whenever I deliver an exam technique or memory course I always come away feeling I have learned something, although I do of course hope it was not just me!

Last week was no exception; it was the memory technique course. Now I have written in the past about memory techniques, but last week one specific topic stood out, chunking.

One of the problems with learning any subject is that often you are faced with such large volumes of information it seems impossible to learn. This is not dissimilar to the position that memory champions find themselves, for example one of the tasks they have to undertake is to memorise a pack of cards.

How long would it take you, 30 minutes, 2 hours, maybe it’s not possible?

Well it is possible and you can do it in 24.97 seconds, don’t believe me, then watch this video.

So how is it done?

Well the first thing to say is it takes practice; secondly it uses some of the principles of memory, chunking, visualisation, and association. You break the task down into a series of smaller tasks, e.g. remember each separate card (chunking) then create a unique image of each card and finally put the events into a structure you are already familiar with, let’s say your journey to work (association).

Listen Professor Winston and Andi Bell world memory champion in 2002 explain more.

Chunking in a bit more detail

I have promoted the benefits of visulisation in previous blogs so let’s focus on chunking.

Look at these letters for 30 seconds

BAADHLWWFCBBACCA

Look away from the screen and write down as many as you can.

Now look at these letters

ACCA CBB WWF DHL BAA

Look away from the screen and write down as many as you can.

You should find that you did better at the second list, one because some of them are already familiar to you BAA – British Airways, but most importantly because they were broken down into smaller chunks.

It works for study as well

Chunking is not only a useful memory technique but a great way to study. When faced with a new subject, start by breaking it down into smaller chunks then priorities those chunks as to which is the most important. This would normally be the most examinable. You then focus on that chunk, don’t worry about all the other topics; just concentrate on that one, and when you have done that move onto the next etc.

And finally

The guy that broke the world record is Ben Pridmore from Derby in the UK

Sleep, picture, talk – learn smarter

Three stories caught my eye this month that I thought might be of interest.

They are all ways in which new research is providing evidence as to how it is possible to learn more effectively, a kind of smart brain learning.

 

 

Sleep is good for study

A new study from the University of Notre Dame suggest  that sleeping soon after learning new material is best for recall. This clearly has implications for students in those latter stages of revision and arguably the night before the exam.  The answer it would seem is that you can study right up to the last minute (probably memorising  facts) as long as you are getting a good night’s sleep after wards.

Although it is not known with certainty why sleep is so good, it is believed that it brings some form of consolidation of the facts, a kind of updating and reorganising of the brain while you rest.

The idea is not that new, this research was out in 2004

Pictures are better than words

This might come as no surprise to people who have read this blog before but it is reassuring that there is some science to support the view that the brain is more effective with pictures than words.

A story from the BBC about a group of people who had their brainwaves scanned while completing a series of tasks, individually and in groups, to see if data visualisation, presenting information visually, in this case a series of mind maps can help. The results showed that when tasks were presented visually rather than using traditional text, individuals used arround 20% less cognitive resources. In other words, their brains were working a lot less hard.

The research was carried out by Mindlab International, an independent research company that specialises in neurometrics – the science of measuring patterns of brain activity through EEG, eye tracking and skin conductivity, which tracks emotions.

This is not just another plug for mind maps, they are just one way in which information is presented visually. When reading a book or study manual, put information in boxes, use graphs, draw people and objects, make it look visual, it will all help.

The first sign of madness – talking to yourself out loud

Gary Lupyan, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison often found himself talking out loud so he thought it might try to find out if it helped, and guess what it did.

In one experiment, volunteers were shown 20 pictures of various objects and asked to look for a specific one, such as a banana. In half of the trials, participants were asked to repeatedly say what they were looking for out loud to themselves, the others were asked to remain silent. The researchers found self-directed speech helped people find objects more quickly by about 50 to 100 milliseconds.

Most people talk to themselves when studying, but they don’t say the words out loud they keep it inside their heads. What this research suggests is that what you should do is say the words out loud, use different voices even. I know it sounds strange but it does work. Okay maybe you should do it behind closed doors; you don’t want to upset the neighbors…..

 

 

 

Time for revision – Revision timetables

As the month of March slips effortlessly away it is time for some of you to be thinking about revision, my daughter is, or should I say should be. For others the very word revision will help focus your attention and remind you that it is not too far away for you either. If only we had more time….or perhaps could better manage the time we have.

David Allen is a productivity consultant (great job title) and bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. He suggests that “‘Time management’ is a foolish idea,” “You don’t manage time. Have you ever mismanaged five minutes and come up with six? Or four-and-a-half? Time just is. Our actions are what we manage, during time.”

And if you think about it he‘s right, the amount of time you have is a matter of fact. So we just need to prioritise the tasks in that time dependant on what we want to achieve. To better organise your time it is a very good idea to have a study/revision timetable.

When to start

It is difficult to be prescriptive about when to start revision as it depends on many things: the length of the course, the level of complexity of the subject, the time you have before the exam and how many exams you are doing at any one time. But we do need a rough idea, so I am going to assume that revision has to start somewhere between two and six weeks before the exam. For some people, starting 2 weeks before the exam may sound early, but if you are studying more than one subject and or are working full time, when you actually break down the amount of hours you are revising, anything less than 2 weeks will be insufficient for an effective revision program. 

Revision timetable

There are many different ways in which you can draw up your timetable and I have included several examples below for you to print off and or download. One thing I would say is that the very process of creating your own time table will help you begin thinking about what it is you have to do, how long it will take etc. In fact you could say that your revision starts with your timetable.

Don’t forget Google calendar which I use a lot and it will sync to your mobile.

But what should you do in the time available?

In order to give you some idea what you should be doing in the time available I have produced a mock-up of a revision timetable showing various activities. It is based on the assumption that you have 6 weeks before the exam.

Key to activities

  • A – Produce an analysis of past exam papers so as to identify the key examinable areas
  • E – Find out if your examiner has produced any specific examiner guidance or any technical articles
  • N- Read through existing notes and make new revision notes based on the key examinable topics
  • P – Work through past exam questions from the key examinable areas
  • M – Take a mock exam
  • B – Take a break

The shaded areas are weekends and X denotes the actual exams. Week 5 and 6 assumes that you are not at work if of course you do work and so have a full day to devote to your revision. As you can see of the last 5 days 2 are taken up with mock exams and the last 3 are left blank. This is because there are two parts to revision.

The first is very much to do with making notes, practicing questions based on the key examinable topics and continuing to learn but in a much more focused way than on tuition. Equally, what you are learning is far more about application, how the topic will be examined rather than what the topic is about.

The second is more about recognising that there will be some topics that you won’t be able to master in the time you have left and others that you have mastered but can’t remember some of the key prompts, definitions or formats. In this second period, we need to start committing things to memory.

Not related to time but…

I came across these videos by Dr Stephen Chew a professor of physiology at Samford University, Birmingham Alabama. They are a series of 5 videos about how to get the most out of studying. Not only are they interesting but they include some very helpful tips and hints as to how you can become more time  efficient with your studying.

Video 1 Beliefs that make you fail …or succeed

Video 2 what students should know about how people learn?

Video 3 cognitive principles for optimizing learning

Video 4 putting principle for learning into practice

Video 5 I blew the exam now what

Enjoy and let me leave you with this thought “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” anon

Deliberate reading – How to read technical content

In his book Five Minds for the Future Howard Gardner identifies one mind as the Synthesising Mind. He describes this as the mind that takes informationfrom disparate sources, understands and evaluates that information objectively, and puts it together in ways that make sense to the synthesiser and also to other persons.

We live in an age where knowledge is not hard to find, just Google something and you will find no shortage of information on any subject. The skill or mind that you need to develop is to be better able to filter information focusing only on what is important and ignoring what is not. 

But there is just too much!

As a student at some point you will find yourself having to read a book that contains masses of information that you need to learn but given the volume probably not able to absorb. You will need to filter the information, reduce it down into manageable chunks that can be understood and made sense.

As Gardner suggests, this understanding is initially for your benefit but eventually you will have to explain it to others, so the understanding needs to be deeper than simply knowing.

So we need a way in which you can both read and learn at a deep level. Children read instinctively using their finger, putting it under the words they are trying to say. Of course when they go to school using your finger to learn is not encouraged, so they stop. But there is good reason that children do this, you need to focus your attention and pointing or underlining is one way of doing it. Below is a step by step guide as to how to read technical stuff or in fact anything that you need to have a far better understanding than a few random facts.

How to read with your synthesising mind

1. Find the content page in your book and very loosely mind map or write out the chapter headings; see my previous blog on mind mapping. Do this IN THE BOOK, okay you will have to write on the book and that might feel uncomfortable, but you need the information all together and the book is the best place to store it. This will help you gain an overview of what is to come. Your brain will already begin to put some shape to what you are about to learn and begin to make linkages.

2. Read each chapter, but underline the key points, try to underline key words and not huge paragraphs. This in itself will help you start to focus on what is important. Yes it will slow you down but you are not just reading you are learning. Knowing what the key points are is not easy so you will have to concentrate, however don’t spend forever, often your gut instinct is the right one.

3. Write in the margin your understanding of the key points or even just copy out what is in the book. The purpose of this is to reinforce the knowledge and to make it stand out even more. It is better if you have to think about what is said in the context of what you are trying to learn and write it out in your own words. However you don’t always have time, so never be afraid to simply copy.

4. Mind map or summarise all the key points that you have written in the margin within the chapter at the front of that chapter. This is your chance to show how it all fits together. Double check your summary with the one that is in the back of the chapter, this will make sure you don’t miss anything. Now of course what you could do is just read the summaries at the end of each chapter and if you are really short of time this can be very effective, however you will not learn from this, but it can be a better way of getting a more detailed overview than you would from the contents page.

5. Look at each of the chapter summaries and add to your initial overview of the book or simply re write the whole thing. This final summary or mind map will help consolidate your thoughts on what the really important points were, the key messages and aid your understanding.

Also in a few years if you pick this book off your shelf, or when you come to revise, it will be this summary that will bring everything flooding back.

And just in case your curious – the other four minds are

The Disciplined Mind

The disciplined mind has mastered at least one way of thinking – a distinctive mode of cognition that characterizes a specific scholarly discipline, craft or profession.

The Creating Mind

The creating mind breaks new ground. It puts forth new ideas, poses unfamiliar questions, conjures up fresh ways of thinking, arrives at unexpected answers.

The Respectful Mind

The respectful mind notes and welcomes differences between human individuals and between human groups, tries to understand these “others,” and seeks to work effectively with them.

The Ethical Mind

The ethical mind ponders the nature of one’s work and the needs and desires of the society in which he lives. This mind conceptualizes how workers can serve purposes beyond self-interest and how citizens can work unselfishly to improve the lot of all.

Motivation – How to want to study

2012, another year and an opportunity to set some New Year resolutions, but how many will you keep, and why won’t you keep them? It’s not because you don’t want to, it’s not because they are not important. But somehow you just don’t want them enough; you lack the motivation to make them happen.

Just imagine if you woke up every morning jumped out of bed and said, “I can’t wait to start studying today.” How much would you learn if that was the way you felt? Well, that’s what it would be like if you were motivated. The interesting thing is that motivation can be learned, just like anything else. With the right techniques you can improve your desire to want to study.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar

What is motivation?

Motivation can be thought of as the wants, needs and beliefs that drive an individual towards a particular goal or perceived outcome. It will generally result in affecting a person’s behavior: they will do something as a result.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Tony Robbins

Motivation is about setting goals

If motivation is about being driven towards a particular goal, then, to be motivated, you must set a goal or outcome in such a way that it invades your thoughts and affects your actions. In principle, then motivation is about goal-setting. You cannot be motivated if you don’t want something.

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.

How to set goals

The process that you go through in order to set goals is important, below is an easy to follow guide as to what questions you need to ask to set motivational goals.

1. What do you want? State the goal in positive terms, what you want, not what you don’t want.

This needs to be something you want, so, saying “I don’t want to fail my exams” needs to be changed to “I want to pass my exams.”

2. What will you accept as evidence that you have achieved your outcome? – Make it real

  •  Ask – How will you know that you have this outcome? What will you see, what will you hear, how will you feel? or

So if your objective is to pass your exams, perhaps you would see yourself opening the letter and it showing a clear pass, you hear yourself shout “yes” and you feel so proud or maybe just relieved.

3. Is achieving this outcome within your control? –  Must not depend on others

  •  Ask – Is this something which you can achieve? Or does it require OTHER people to behave in a certain way?

If the answer to what do you want was, “To pass my exams,” then, when you get to this point it will become clear that this outcome is not achievable by you. To pass the exam, you need the examiner to consider your script worthy of a pass. So the outcome needs to be refined to smaller outcomes that can be achieved by you. E.g. “I want to practice more questions.” This is within your control.

4. Are the costs and consequences of obtaining this outcome acceptable?  – What do you gain and lose as a result of achieving your outcome?

  •  Ask – What are the advantages of making this change?
  • Ask – What are the disadvantages of making this change?

This will help identify if what you want (your outcome) is really best for you and the balance of your life? If you achieve your outcome, how will your life be affected?

5. And then….. Write them all down

 A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

Ayn Rand

And finally – The E word

Many of my blogs, including this one contains extracts from my book “The E word,” the book about how to pass exams.

You can buy this book now at Amazon.

PS Want to know what the guys from Apple think text books should look like – check out this video

A beautiful mind or just a different one – Personalised learning

My Daughter is sitting her mock exams at the moment, my wife is taking her to school just in case the train breaks down! And I have just finished teaching revision; only the dog seems unaffected by this November/December exams season.

Watching my Daughter study was interesting, she has discovered that you don’t need a white board to make notes, and just like John Nash (A beautiful Mind) has been writing on our dining room windows with a marker pen.  She also created a game where the answer was under a flap of paper and found that she learned more effectively when teaching someone else, me. Go on ask me a question about respiration or stem cells…..

I have written on the merits of learning styles before,”learning styles don’t work or do they,” but in that blog I focused more on how you process information rather than using differing methods to learn. For example making notes using mind maps rather than in a linear format or writing on the window rather than on paper…..  Different people learn in different ways and at different speeds. This is why there is a big push in education to personalise learning, to make it sufficiently flexible for each individual to learn in their own way.

The argument is that in the last century education was delivered in a style needed to prepare people to work in factories. It required little in the way of individual thought just the ability to perform simple repetitive tasks, the same as everyone else. As a result pupils were all taught in the same way, sat in rows, repeating the same thing over and over again, and dressing alike. Okay a bit Orwellian and not entirely true, there have always been great teachers, but you get the point.

But now we live in a world that is constantly changing, problem solving is highly praised and keeping up to date with the latest information or developments is essential. So learning needs to change.

Different ways to learn

There are of course many ways to learn, but below are a few tips and hints.

  •  Making notes – writing something down is an incredibly powerful method of learning. Some people like mind maps, others prefer lists or bullet points and why not try Concept Mapping. The key point, just write it down.
  • Cards – reducing down what you have to learn and put it onto small cards. This is great for individuals who like to rearrange information, putting the most important first or eliminating what has been mastered.
  • Get a learning habit – make a routine out of what you do so that you perform a task without thinking. Learn one new fact before you go to bed, always have a book to hand or have notes on your mobile so that when you are on the train everyday you can study for 20/30 minutes.
  • Talk out loud – okay people may think you are a bit strange but listening to your own voice can really help.

Of course not all of the above will work for everyone that’s why you are you, an individual, the secret is not to give up if one method does not work.

Ps other great films about learning

Good will Hunting and the best of all Dead Poets Society

Let me know your favourites?

Exam results – what to do if you fail!

August is an interesting month, for some it is the time to take a well earned holiday and so de-stress for others it is the month in which the exam results drop through the letter box or inbox and so a time to get stressed.

I have taken the easier of these two options and so have been on holiday, which for me is always a chance to read a couple of books. One of them was called Talent is overrated by Geof Colvin, senior editor for Fortune magazine. In the book Geof puts forward some interesting arguments as to the role talent plays in the success of people who by many would be considered exceptional, even gifted. He argues not so much that innate talent does not exist, more that successful people, those at the top of their respective tree, Tiger Woods (okay not personally – but he is still a great golfer) Warren Buffet, Bill Gates for example have other qualities, they worked hard, and practised a lot…..

Greatness does not come from DNA but from practice and perseverance honed over decades. The key is how you practice, how you analyse the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes.

What has this got to do with exam failure?

If you looked around your class and picked the best, brightest, most talented students, I bet they passed their exams. And the reason you failed was because you are not good enough, you are not talented!

Well here is the bad news, what Geof Colvin and in fairness many others have found is that it is often not down to talent, it is down to hard work and practice, and we are all capable of that. If you believe that your poor exam results were because of your lack of innate abilitiy then you are wrong. You are in fact creating what is called a fixed mindset, you begin to believe that you can’t affect your performance and so don’t try. What’s more it’s not all that good to believe you are naturally talented. Research has proven that if you believe that you do well because you are talented, when faced with failure you are more likely to give up. If you believe that you did well because of hard work and then you fail, you carry on but just work harder next time.

So what should you do?

Geof goes on to say that it is not just practice that matters but how you practice, you need to practice deliberately. He calls it deliberate practice and it should;

  • Be designed to improve performance
  • Be repeated a lot
  • Enable you to get feedback continuously
  • Be highly demanding mentally
  • Not be much fun

But what satisfies the above criteria…….. yes practicing using past exam questions. So if you were not successful in your exams, find out when you can re-sit then;

1. Take a deep breath, get out your notes from last time and draw a mind map or review the one you did for revision, sometimes it’s best to make a fresh start. This will remind you of what you have to cover and get you thinking about the subject again.

2.  Analyse the past exam questions (including the last exam) and find out what is examined the most then identify the areas you need to improve.

3. Start to practice these past questions using the answers for feedback, and no it may not be much fun but then you now that.

Failure – the only way to learn

Here is a great video by a guy called Derek Sivers, Derek is a professional musician and founder of a company called CD baby in the US. He makes an argument as to why we need failure because it is a major factor in how we learn and grow.

Final thought

I know at the moment that failing an exam can feel like the biggest disappointment in the world and that it may seem that your career is over before it really got started. But it is what you do next that really matters

As Michael Jordon once said “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying”

Inspirational true story…Never give up!

Congratulations on failing from one failure to another…

Sorry is not good enough – Exam paper mistakes

9 exam paper errorsExams seem to be in the news a lot these days, unfortunately often for the wrong reasons. This month we were told of at least six errors on exam papers sat by students studying A-level, AS-level and GCSEs taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The errors were on questions with marks ranging from 1 to 11 and effect 90,000 students. In fact it is hard to keep up; only yesterday there was news of another possible three mistakes, bringing the new total to nine!

The examining bodies have said they were sorry and that they would take into account the errors when they come to mark the paper, ensuring that no students would be disadvantaged as a result. Firstly an apology is not good enough, it should not happen in the first place and secondly they can’t “take into account” the full impact of the mistakes. And it looks like David Cameron agrees……

Now of course everyone makes mistakes, but when the consequences are as important as this there should be a system in place to ensure they are spotted. That system should include having an examiner, an assessor and a sitter. This is in addition to the normal proofing and arithmetic checks. The examiner writes the paper, and presumably checks it, the assessor also checks the paper, ensuring the wording is clear and that what is being asked is within the syllabus and technically correct. The sitter should then attempt the paper under exam conditions, to make sure that it can be completed in the time available. If these processes are followed it would seem almost impossible for a mistake to be made, I wonder what went wrong?

Equally it is not possible for the examining body to ensure that no student is disadvantaged. What can they do, be generous with the marks for any attempts made?  What if the student looked at the question tried to do it, panicked and as a result wasted valuable time, making little or no attempt at the rest of that question, there is in effect nothing to mark. What can you do in these circumstances; just add on say 5 marks!

How can you take into account the student who raced through the second question because they spent so much time on the first and made mistakes due to the time pressure, add on another 5 marks!

And what about the student who looked at this question, lost their confidence and so failed to complete the paper, add another 5 marks!

Listen to this confident student describe the impact of a mistake in the exam.

And he got no reply…..

What to do if there is a mistake

There is however some good news, you can still give yourself the best chance of passing if you apply some simple exam techniques.

1. Stick to the mark allocation – if it is a 10 mark question then only spend 18 minutes on it, 1.8 marks per minute for a three hour exam. So even if you cannot answer the question because of a mistake on the paper you will not be wasting time that could be better used on the next question.

2. Don’t think you have to get everything exactly right. Your objective is to pass the exam with the highest mark, so you may have to accept that you will not get 100%. And of course getting 100% correct is impossible when the examining body has put down the wrong information! Do your best and move on.

3. Make assumptions – read the exam question slowly, underline the key points and if it doesn’t make sense clarify what you think it is saying by stating your assumptions. Then answer the question in accordance with your assumptions.

4. Don’t bother asking if you think there is a mistake. There is little point asking in the exam if there is a mistake on the paper. The invigilators on the day are unlikely to be subject experts and so will do nothing. Let others put their hand up and ask, you should keep your head down and get on with answering the question.

Remember exams are more than tests of knowledge and they are not always fair, but they are equal, everyone in the exam room is faced with the same examiners mistake. How you deal with those mistakes however can make all the difference….

Another TED lecture worth watching

And finally I have another TED lecture for you to watch. It is presented by Sir Ken Robinson who gives a very interesting talk on what he describes as a crisis in our education system – personalised learning not standardised/production driven learning.