Smart Advance

Hundreds of exam-style questions

Smart Advance presents students with hundreds of exam-style questions written or reviewed by past or present examiners.

There is no substitute for revising with real exam-style questions. Using past-papers to practice answering exam questions is a critical part of the revision process. However, students quickly exhaust the available material from exam board websites.

Command word help

“State”, “describe”, “explain” and “justify” are just a few of what are known as command words. Students need to be able to identify the command words in a question so that they know the type of written response an examiner is looking for. Advance identifies and explains the command words from the specification in every question.

Guided marking

Students can choose from two methods of marking their answers. Guided and unguided marking. Unguided shows the mark scheme to students and allows them to enter the number of marks awarded. Guided marking steps a student through a series of simple yes/no questions to help them judge their answer, automatically adding up the marks gained.

Advance does not automatically mark a student’s answer. It is an important, and rich part of the revision process that students reflect on their answers for themselves instead of the computer doing it for them. Engaging with the mark scheme allows students to understand how examiners award credit for their answers.

Level of response

In addition to standard questions, Advance also supports “level of response” questions that are marked in bands, low, mid and high.

After a question has been marked against the points in the mark scheme, the mark is determined by applying the correct band instead of the number of relevant points made,

Some command words require students to structure their answers in a particular way using linked and developing points. Advantages, disadvantages, conclusions or evaluations. Advance facilitates these command words and questions, guiding the student through the marking process.

Insightful reports

A suite of reports enables teachers to review the answers students are writing to questions and also assess how well they are interpreting and applying the mark scheme. Discover if students need more practice with particular command words such as, “justify” or “level of response” type questions, or whether they are struggling to answer fully the questions worth higher marks.

Using the reports it is easy to see which questions students need the most help with. Every question has a unique number with an option to navigate immediately to a particular question.

A student responses report allows the teacher to look at the answers students give to a question. More interestingly, it also shows from all the possible answers that can gain credit, which ones the students did or didn’t use.

If a possible answer wasn’t used, does that mean that it wasn’t taught? Does it mean that the students didn’t remember that as a possibility? Or simply that the students chose other answers instead? Taking a deeper look at the analysis of the collective responses and application of the mark scheme is extremely powerful for teachers, and is unique to Smart Revise.

What the research says

Reading work, text books and revision guides are not that effective. When a student simply reads or rereads their books or notes it creates an illusion of knowing, when in fact many studies show students get nothing out of it. Revision guides are useful for reminding yourself of a concept in a short, easy to digest way, but on their own they do not raise attainment. It is not about how pretty or comprehensive a revision guide looks; it is about how and when a student engages with it. If a teacher simply buys and hands out revision guides to students without continually engaging with them frequently, their value will be limited. Using highlighter pens on notes also does little to boost performance and it may actually hurt performance on higher-level questions that require inference making.

Attempting to retrieve knowledge frequently is known as spaced practice. Doing the same questions again and again over a long period of time, not just at the end of the course can raise attainment. Understanding the exam, practicing questions and applying mark schemes is proven to be the most effective revision technique. Far better than using revision guides. With exam-style questions, keyword help, guided marking and model answers, Advance is built for revision.

Getting the most out of Smart Advance

  • If you want to use Tasks to set students’ unseen questions, for example for end of topic tests, disable Smart Advance to lock access to these questions. However, this might not be ideal. Giving students advance sight of questions might be ‘good learning experience’ for pupils, claimed the Ofqual chair in 2021.
  • Enable Advance for students and periodically give them a question to tackle in class and self-assess themselves using the guided marking facility. Every question has a unique question number that students can jump to immediately.
  • Use the reports to identify trends in the responses given by exploring the mark scheme bullet points used to self-assess answers.
  • Encourage students to make use of Advance outside of lessons and especially for private revision as exams approach.