Past exam papers are becoming a popular resource for many students nowadays, especially those who are reviewing for major exams and assessments.
Several websites online and public archives have these papers for download and many are saying it has helped them aced their exams.
However, there are people who say that using past exam papers for reviewers would only cause students to develop the wrong study habits since they will just use the answers from the previous test.
Others may say there are other means to prepare for exams and the time used for these past exams can be used there.
But, what should we do?
Are Past Paper Questions always Helpful?
According to some teachers, utilising past paper questions can help students determine where they need to revise for exams; but it must be used carefully.
Past paper questions can help students determine which areas they are strong with and where they need help. It is also helpful in a sense that it can help students think on how they can understand tricky questions and plan how they will answer correctly.
However, with the updates in subjects like science and technology, and the changes in how questions are written, these questions may not be helpful in assisting students pick hints for certain questions.
Misunderstanding is also plausible when it comes to using past paper questions for reviewers because students may be unable to contextualise the questions in exams.
Benefits of Using Past Exam Papers
If you are still unconvinced as to the benefits of using past paper questions, here are several reasons as to why students should take time in reviewing with the help of past exam papers:
• Boosts Self-confidence
First and foremost, using past exam papers helps you build your self-confidence. It is not uncommon for many students to lose their focus during exams, especially if they feel as if they have not prepared enough.
When they include past exam papers in their reviewers, students will be able to use the papers to see how the exams would look like and condense their review sessions to the areas they need to focus on.
As a result, they will be able to prepare better and be confident that they won’t fall in the pitfalls of the real exams.
• Enables you to focus on Common Exam Themes
When you take time in checking past examinations, you will be able to see certain similarities or themes in them that can be covered in the real exam.
Your teachers know they cannot fit every key fact from your lessons on the exam, so they will just select the ones that are not just tricky, but also crucial to learn and remember.
With the help of the past exams, you can narrow down your reviewer to the key topics that would definitely appear on the test and start reviewing from there.
• Offer a way to Practice with Exam-style Questions
Past exam papers can be instrumental in helping you get a feel on how key topics and questions will be asked in the real exams.
If you use the past exam papers as a mock exam, you will be able to determine which areas you are strong with, areas which you need help with, and areas which you know nothing at all. With the help of the past exam papers, you can turn your revision to focus on these weak areas.
You can make your own exam-style questions, but there is a possibility that it is worded in such a way you can easily answer it. Exam-style questions can be very tricky and depending on the subject, you will need to be careful on the phrases used.
Past exam papers can help you remember these quirks and identify them immediately during the exam.
• Help you Develop your Time Management Skills
For many students, answering exams completely is quite difficult because they may find themselves slumped in one tricky question and use a lot of time in it. As a result, they missed a lot of points since they were unable to answer the easy questions they can answer and score badly.
Since past exam papers are the actual tests used by previous students, you can use the exams as a basis on how you should spend time on each section of the exam and get a feel on how the test will go.
Try using the exam as a mock test paper and time yourself as if you are taking the real test. Once the time is finished, check how well you did by asking someone to check your answers and how many questions you managed to fill up.
If you did not manage to answer all the questions, you can adjust the time you allot to each question, review the topic you had difficulties with and try again.
Keep trying until you managed to develop your reaction and response time and it will be a great asset once you face the real exams.
• Refine your Exam Responses
As you look into old exam papers, you will be able to determine which answers will earn you high points. Some exam papers come with an answer and grading sheet that would explain how each answers are graded.
You can even check the answer of other students to help you revise your response for certain types of questions.
To help you further, when you use the exam papers as a mock test, you can ask friends and your tutors to grade your answers so they can tell you if you need to revise your answers.
Any resource has its pros and cons and past paper examinations are no exceptions to this rule. However, we must not immediately disregard them immediately just because of the risks of using them.
Past exam papers can give students the insight they need to prepare and adjust their focus accordingly. Once the focus is adjusted, there is no doubt that they can ace the test without any trouble at all.
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