Meta-Cognition: What I am thinking about in an exam

By Matt Smith


I am always telling my students to use the information in the case study when answering an essay question.  There are so many posters and clues that can help guide their answer.  However, many do not make full use of the case study in an exam situation.  I came across this post by John Tompsett which explains a way to tackle this problem. He simply annotated a case study with what he was thinking and so showed his students how they could use the information given.

With this in mind I asked one of my A2 classes to read and annotate a case study before they answered an essay on it. I was amazed that at least 50% of them simply highlighted huge chunks of the case study and actually wrote nothing. They seemed to fail to understand that they needed to read it properly and link some theory to it.  I then showed them how I had annotated the case study and explained that by the time I had done it my essay plan was sorted as all the theory had been applied to the case study and question.


The student response was really positive as I think they now realised how important this process of reading and annotating was.  They understood that it takes a little longer to do it properly but it does result in a them writing a much more focussed and relevant answer when answering the essay question.

I guess this approach could be used in any subject that involves a case study so why not give it a go.

2 thoughts on “Meta-Cognition: What I am thinking about in an exam

  1. I can see this working for long written questions in Science papers. Students are often very poor at this and get very stressed at teh thought of it. I will give it a go with my Physics classes and report back


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