Idea 228: Teaching Exam Technique With ‘Spoof’ Test Marking


I wanted to familiarise my class with the format of an upcoming test and the type of exam skills needed to complete it.

The most obvious way to do that is to simply give the children a test to complete. However, I find that while my pupils might improve their exam technique a little, they aren’t really learning much in general.

Instead, I completed the test that I was originally going to give them, making sure to include various types of mistakes that I knew my class could pick out and discuss. I also included my working out for how I got the answers, with the hopes that children who might have gotten the correct answer through a more time-consuming method could see another way of  approaching a question.


There are lots of fun ways you can run this type of ‘spoof assessment’ in a lesson:

-Ask pupils to find the mistakes (which makes it more like a fun hunt!). Then, can they explain what mistake the pupil made?

For example one question was ‘9 x 2 =’ and I wrote the answer as 11. The children were quick to pounce on this ‘careless’ error and picked up that the person who did the test hadn’t read the calculation correctly and had done addition not multiplication, and also hadn’t gone back and checked their answers!


-Ask pupils to work in pairs to mark the tests and agree on what mark they would give. You can then have pairs meet up with another pair and compare if they got the same score. If they got different scores, they can discuss which question was the issue.

To make this a bit more fun and focused you can write down what score you think the person should have gotten, and offer a team point etc if a pair manages to get the same answer as you. If you decide to do this then I’d suggest you let the children give two marks for each question; one for the right answer, and one for showing correct working out.


-Have children mark the test and then correct the mistakes in pencil crayon, ready to be ‘returned’ to the person who did the test. Or have them write a short paragraph to the person explaining what they think that person needs to do to improve.


-Give each child only one page of the test. Once they have marked their page, they pair up with a child with the same page and compare what they thought. Do they agree on what is right or wrong?

Finally they can pair up with children with a different page and take turns explaining to them what they thought about the page they marked and if it contained any mistakes.


-As a nice bit of extra accountability, try and find a test similar in format to the one you are discussing and let the children know they will be doing that test individually after this task, to motivate everyone to pick up top tips!


This kind of ‘spoof test assessment’ works well for almost any type of exam practice and makes for a fun and engaging lesson as opposed to having the children sitting in silence doing tests again and again, with some children losing the will to live as they get questions wrong every time!

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