Aural Test – Statistics

StatisticsMy post on using mental tests for revision seems to have interested many readers so I thought I would follow this up. Having looked back in time to GCSE many years ago when an aural test was actually part of the exam (10%) I shall in future refer to these as Aural Tests. It was these tests that started me using the idea of an aural test on anything any time! They can be short and make ideal starters or plenaries or in the case of revision aural tests can last a lesson with lots of associated questions and discussion.

Looking through some old resources I came across a cassette (!) recording of myself reading the questions for a GCSE aural test I recorded for a correspondence college. I intend to transcribe that and will write a post on these old style tests in the near future.

Having successfully given my Year 13 students two aural tests on the Pure Mathematics C3 and C4 modules (after the first they requested the second) my wonderful colleague who teaches the group with me joined in the venture and gave them a third aural test on their  Statistics module. We and our students feel we have done some really useful revision in their last lessons for all three modules on their Advanced Level course.

So this week I have my last lessons with Year 11 (UK age 15-16) who are preparing for their GCSE. I want to look at their Statistics unit with them and have decided that an aural test should work well. Looking at various papers I have extracted some diagrams and asked questions around those. These are topics that I feel my particular class needs; I want to review various statistical diagrams. In case this is of interest I have made all the resources available here. Students need the answer sheet only. The teacher reads the questions and they have to listen very carefully and answer the questions. They will need to write answers in their exercise books or on paper as well as using the answer sheet. With these longer revision aural tests it is sometimes appropriate to give feedback after each question as opposed to waiting till the end to mark all questions. I use both techniques.

Creating the solutions reminded me once again of how useful colour can be to make solutions clear.

I would be interested to hear from teachers who try aural tests with their students; I find them useful for all ages.

Last Revision Lessons

Study leave is approaching fast for our examination classes so it’s time to think about those last lessons. I will be using a few mental tests with all my examination students as I find these work very well indeed. Last week with Year 13 we had a C3 (an A Level module – OCR MEI) mental test; at the end of the lesson they said that was really useful and requested a C4 mental test for this week. I think my favourite kind of lesson feedback is when students make requests like this!

Note that the ideas here can be used all year round – not just for last revision lessons.

These tests are simply short questions that test recall of the basic skills needed for the module; so for example some standard derivatives and integrals, graph sketches, changing the subject of the formula for expressions involving exponential functions and so on. Note that another possibility is to ask students to write down the expressions / calculations needed for a question (they can always come back and complete it later).

Basically, sit down with the syllabus in front of you and cover as much as possible. Although informal this is making the students individually recall material they will need – see Highlighting is a Waste of Time.

CIMT Teacher Resources

CIMT Teacher Resources

For some inspiration for mental tests have a look at the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching resources for GCSE (and for younger students note that mental tests are supplied for all the Key Stage 3 (UK age 11-14) units). In fact the GCSE resource shown above would also apply to AS level.

For the Teacher Resources scroll down to the end of the GCSE Resources page and you will find resources for each unit.

CIMT Mental Test

CIMT Mental Test – Using Graphs

For A Level students, questions such as Mohammed Ladak’s Essential Skills pack for Core AS or Corbett Maths A Level 5-a-day could be used / adapted. Questions do need to be short, recall type questions where just a short time is needed for any working out. I do find that because I use this idea regularly, I can just ask questions by looking at the specification and using my experience of what I know students forget!

Looking at the CIMT resources I noticed some more valuable revision resources; note the GCSE Revision pack; this has quick checks at Foundation, Intermediate and Higher Level and example papers with answers and mark schemes.

CIMT GCSE Quick Checks

CIMT GCSE Quick Checks

CIMT Higher Paper example

CIMT Higher Paper example

For revision tests by topic, each unit of the GCSE course has a revision test with answers. Whilst the vast majority of the material on the CIMT site is freely accessible, a few documents such as these revision tests are password protected. The password can be obtained if you send a request using your educational institution email address; CIMT also give the password to home educators.

I have added the CIMT GCSE Revision pack to the examination resources page which is part of the Revision Activities series of pages.