Thursday, 15 December 2016

A New Series About Exam Tips -- Introduction

Welcome to Dreaming Spires Revision and the new series of exam tips I'm running for this year.

If you're not sure who I am, my name is Dr Kat Patrick, a home-educator for more than a decade who is also a former secondary school teacher in English and examiner for the Cambridge International Board's 0500 English Language iGCSE exam.

I run online crammer courses about three times a year to help coach students do their best on this exam, and have also written a revision guide that you can buy from Amazon at the link below:

On a recent Facebook discussion about UK exams, someone challenged me about why I often mention that my revision courses give tips and tricks that only a current examiner can know. The answer is simple: no matter how many past papers you download, how many mark schemes or examiner's reports you read, you'll never know the ins and outs of the way examining works unless you've been in those standardisation meetings, seen the special examiner-only mark schemes, and discussed sample answers at length to understand how one should apply the rubric in any number of normal - or indeed, sometimes very odd -- situations.

When I first became an examiner back in the 'noughties, I realised straight away that students who go to schools where examiners work were getting an advantage over other students, particularly home educators who'll be very unlikely to have access to the inner workings of CIE. That's when Dreaming Spires Revision was born, and over the years and various specs, I have honed my step-by-step process for tackling this exam until it's as details and yet simple as I can make it.

The original inspiration for online
courses came from my own kids

Nevertheless, there are more ideas coming to me all the time, new examples from student papers that I'm marking, and new suggestions, so that I thought a running blog of tips was probably in order.

What they will not be, however, is in any particular order. I've already started publishing a few tips that I thought were fairly preliminary in the process, and yet today, I realised there are considerations even earlier in the process than whether or not you know which spec you're intending to sit. I mean, why choose CIE over Edexcel anyway? At what age is the best time to take the English exam? If you're not sitting English in the next year or two, how should you be getting prepared in the meantime?

You don't need to be alone in this venture!

So please stop by often as I mull over these and many other questions. Consider subscribing by entering your email in the field to the right. Come on over to Facebook and "like" us; share posts if you're of a mind to. Drop a comment in the box below, or send me a message via the contact form.

One thing is for sure -- I'm very approachable -- so don't be shy. Your feedback and further questions will only make this series a better one for everyone who's preparing for the 0500 this year and in the near future.

Cheers and good luck!

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