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Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Using the summer holidays wisely


It's the end of term in further education. Time to start looking at next year's resources, tidy up schemes of work and piece together the always difficult timetable and hours.  The natural pattern of cleaning, tidying and preparing for the next academic year begins.

The new linear courses in A-Level Biology present a new challenge. Previously students would have sat an exam set by the exam board and would have the results given to them in the summer. There would be a key pass mark which would have set the standard for the next year and students would have an idea of their final grade.
However courses are now over two years. There are natural advantages to this - students have time to mature on the course, it gives them two years before they take their final test. One of the disadvantages is that students need to retain information from the previous year and hit the second part with full syllabus knowledge.
During the summer holidays is the natural time for students to read up or focus on weaker areas.
It's always useful to set up some accessible information either online or in note form.  Exam technique is a great way of increasing understanding, so spare copies of papers or pointing them to their exam board's website for guidance helps. We keep a full range of papers online so students can use lots of different examples from 2001 onwards.
A good quality revision guide, such as the BIOZONE student workbooks, done at least once a week keeps them in the loop and a small target can actually be more useful and seen as less of a burden.
Students who have not yet passed may benefit from an extra test when they return, as an incentive to study.  One of the advantages of the BIOZONE workbooks is that their pages have in-depth ideas and this helps students to focus on particular topics.  The diagrams are very effective and if you suggest students use a pencil they can re-do questions.
Students will keep in touch in the summer and it's a good way of revising if they have a study buddy. They can also use this on the UCAS statement as a way of demonstrating team work. These informal groups are a fantastic way of encouraging students to discuss their own ideas.
Its back to the scheme of works for me. Have a good summer!

Written by Sara Porter from Derby College