Master your Revision: Past Papers & Mark Schemes

This week’s blog is a reminder of, in my opinion, the best revision resources out there – past papers and mark schemes. I know they might not seem like the most creative revision methods, but I promise that they’re an excellent way to master how to apply your knowledge. They can also be a good confidence booster too, as you can see how your revision is paying off! When I was revising for my IB exams, past papers and mark schemes were an essential part of that process. So, I’m going to share with you how you can use these resources to your advantage too!

A great way to think of it is that you wouldn’t prepare for a football match by never playing football. So definitely don’t prepare for your exams without completing past papers!

Use them Throughout

I know how tempting it can be to treat past papers as the final stage of your revision. You want to get completely familiar with the material before practising writing answers, right? For example, first going through your notes and textbooks, next making revision cards, and only then do you move onto completing past papers. Well, I want to encourage you to use past papers right away – think of them as a crucial element throughout the revision period. Once you’ve finished your revision on a specific topic, complete past paper questions on that topic as soon as possible. This could be straight away, or perhaps you might leave it until the next day, so that you can see whether your revision has sunk in. Or, you could always do both!

The MARCKS Method

Now, the most important aspect of completing past papers is analysing your answers. If you read my previous blog on the best Study Vloggers, then you might remember UnJaded Jade and her excellent Past Papers and Markschemes video. Here she introduces her MARCKS method for analysing where you went wrong in an answer. MARCKS stands for:

  • Maths error
  • Application
  • Reading the question
  • Communication
  • Knowledge
  • Statement

In your answers, you want to work out which of these reasons caused you to lose marks. If you notice in a whole past paper that you lost most marks due to not ‘Reading the question’ for example, then this is what you need to work on!

Learn from your Mistakes

The key thing to remember with completing past papers, is what you get right doesn’t really matter. It’s all about looking at what you got wrong, and why that happened. As UnJaded Jade advocates, you want to analyse these mistakes, work out what wasn’t correct, and make sure you don’t make the same errors again.

Use your Teachers!

In the run up to my IB exams I not only approached my teachers if I still didn’t understand parts of the syllabi, but I asked them to look over all past paper questions I’d completed. And I’m certain your teachers will be happy to help you too! As I previously mentioned, with past papers it’s all about learning from your mistakes. Your teachers will be able to offer their expert advise on where you went wrong, and what you need to add in to improve your grade for next time. They should also have access to a large number of past papers, so don’t hesitate to ask them for more if you run out! Don’t forget, you can also use our awesome IB tutors for support with analysing past paper answers! For one-on-one tailored help, check out our Online Private Tuition HERE!

Pushed for Time?

If you don’t have enough time to sit down and complete an entire past paper, don’t let this stop you! With your essay-based subjects, simply writing an essay plan is a valuable exercise. What I often did for my Maths preparation and Science revision, was to simply take a past paper along with its mark scheme, and go through the mark scheme looking at what the examiners expected in my answers. This was also very useful in helping me learn how the examiners wanted me to structure certain types of answers.

I hope this week’s blog has encouraged you to start using past papers and mark schemes in your revision right away! Good luck over the next few weeks if you have IB exams on the horizon – the Lanterna team are all rooting for you! You’ve got this!

Read More: Sleep Smart During IB Exams

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