It’s time to look at using past papers to ace that exam.


For students in Year 11, exam season is looming.

By now, you may have completed loads of past papers at school.

Do your teachers give them to you so that they can snooze for an hour?

You may think “not another test!”


“I know this already!”

Or even,

“I’ve done this one before!”

But if you know how to use them, past papers can be a really valuable revision tool.

Why do I recommend that you use past papers as preparation for exams?

  • Passing an exam is more than having lots of knowledge about your subject, it is knowledge of how to pass an exam!
  • Examiners look for key phrases that are worth marks in an exam. The more papers you look at the more practice you get at seeing which phrases are used in most exams.
  • You also get to see patterns emerging – check the year of the exam; is there a topic that is always in the exam or are there topics that skip a year and return?
  • Have a really good look at the mark scheme – not to simply ask “did I get it right?” but “what are they looking for?“. Again, check for patterns.
  • The way the questions are asked in an exam are different to the way they are asked in a text book. Get familiar with the question style.
  • Where did you lose most marks on those past papers you did? Focus your revision here!
  • Look for the least obvious topics on the syllabus, revise these as well!
  • Find and read the examiners reports. To ensure high quality teaching, exam boards will often rewrite a poorly answered question for the next bunch of students. These aren’t the most thrilling of documents, but they can offer clues to what they might be rechecking in the next exam!


You can never know exactly what will be on the exam, but you can be smart in your preparation for it.


Have fun outsmarting the examiner!

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