Deputy headteacher Jonathan Boyle reports on his longterm test of 'Exampro'
In a former life I meticulously prepared a raft of past exam papers and as many supporting documents as possible to meet the revision needs of my students.
Compiling question papers, mark schemes and examiners' remarks takes a lot of time and organisation. Should you print or archive them? And did you leave anything out? But this was before AQA Exampro.
If you have done this kind of revision materials compilation too, then you know it is seriously hard work for a busy teacher. But you have a commitment to your students.
'An absolutely positive experience'
AQA Exampro has been an absolutely positive experience for me at both GCSE and GCE. In the past year, I used it for the first time all year and benefited from the seamless integration as a part of my normal lesson routine. Tracking what has been issued to students and recording student achievement across a huge number of themed questions means you can concentrate on monitoring progress in a very different way.
Of course we are focusing on monitoring progress and this software provides the necessary data in droves should you choose to exploit all its facets. The software has a number of layers and exploring the progressive interrogation of AQA Exampro for Design and Technology and other courses comes highly recommended. (You can check my first reactions here "Exams test teachers too — to try 'AQA Exampro".)
On first viewing you could be forgiven for thinking it is just questions and answers. Fear not, as support in abundance awaits including the all-important Examiner’s Feedback and the opportunity to filter the kinds of questions to be asked.
This is super for mastering an area of knowledge and understanding. Each question has an advisory time allocation and the number of marks to be awarded. Selecting the mark scheme and then reading the examiner’s remarks helps the teacher to understand the nuance of questions that can on occasion escape you. In this respect, I see it also as a learning tool for the teacher as at times even the most experienced need a little help in some areas of a vast subject such as product design.
Searching for a theme is straightforward and aids scrutiny of the frequency of questions over time – if question predictions for a forthcoming paper interests you. This search tool is a masterstroke. Any search will not only reveal tiered questions, but also the mark scheme and the examiner’s remarks.
'A learning curve of just a few minutes to create relevant content'
Immediately, this was of interest to me. Collating my own examination papers is now no problem at all with a simple drag-and-drop exercise into a new document panel. The interface is straightforward with a learning curve of just a few minutes to create relevant content that can be saved for retrieval at a later date.
Managing your compilations of questions is a rewarding experience as they are simply saved to My Document Library. From here record the grades achieved by your class having marked their work and begin to build your library of evidence.
Add as many names to want to your Student Mark Sheet and you can export as a standard .csv file. This option is probably best as you can then manipulate the data just as you wish later, and apply conditional formatting in Excel if that is what excites you.
When sharing a class, keeping your colleagues in the loop is very natural with a 'View and Share' button alongside your question compilations. You can even customise the elements of what you have created. This is a real bonus if you do not want to share what could be, for others, a lengthy document. Examiners' reports and mark schemes can be removed when sharing by simply checking off the appropriate tick box.
'Not just for exams; it's for every day of the week'
When ready, just press the ‘Copy viewer URL to the clipboard’ button and paste into an email to colleagues. Yes, the link button name could be shorter. ‘Copy link’ might suffice.
I would say that one of the most useful features is that you can actually view and export in four different ways. The first is browser based, but the inclusion of PDF, Word and Google Drive is inspired. Being able to insert a front cover page at this point finishes off what has been a very smooth and rewarding process of minutes rather than hours.
The AQA Exampro subject database is continually expanding, and since last year my need to have GCE Product Design included has been met. I for one am already a fan and know that testing appropriate themes of work has just become a whole lot more effective. AQA Exampro is not just for examinations; it’s for every day of the week.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 4
Value for money 5
Online service to support teachers and schools with examination preparation. Annual three-user licence for GCSE Product Design £60, GCE Product Design £80. Check website for full range of prices which starts at £60.