Prepare for examinations

Students quickly exhaust the available material from exam board websites. Smart Revise Advance presents students with hundreds of new, original, exam-style questions written or reviewed by past or present examiners.

Every question in Smart Revise is exactly matched to the requirements of a course specification. You can be assured that any question in Smart Revise is a likely candidate for a very similar question in a real examination.

Command words

"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. Smart Advance identifies and explains the command words from the specification in every question.

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.

Level of response

In addition to standard questions, Advance also supports level of response questions that are marked in bands, low, mid and high against assessment objectives (AOs). 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.

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.

The research

Dunlosky proposes that understanding the exam, practicing questions and applying mark schemes is the most effective revision technique students can undertake.

Reading work, textbooks 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.

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4–58

Rawson, K.A., Dunlosky, J. & Sciartelli, S.M. (2013) The Power of Successive Relearning: Improving Performance on Course Exams and Long-Term Retention. Educ Psychol Rev 25, 523–548

Reviewing student answers

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.

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.