Exam Interventions: 14 Questions to Consider

I’m currently in my thirteenth year of teaching. In that time, I’ve witnessed and been involved in plenty of KS4 exam interventions that have all shared the noble aim of raising student achievement. Some of the interventions have been targeted around specific groups (e.g. gender and PP) and others have been open to all. Some of them I’ve really rated (love a lecture, me) and others not so much. Anyway, here’s a selection…

  • Breakfast revision sessions
  • Lunchtime revision sessions
  • After-school revision sessions
  • Holiday revision sessions
  • Revision sessions provided by private companies
  • Weekend mock exams
  • Walk-and-talk mock exams
  • Extra assemblies with an exam focus
  • Subject lectures
  • Motivational speakers
  • Aspirational trips to local and national universities
  • Study skills presentations to students
  • Study skills presentations to parents
  • Reconfigured class groups (usually grouping students by target grade)
  • Small groups of students taken out of regular lessons to focus on specific subjects
  • Peer-mentoring
  • Staff-mentoring
  • Rewards for hitting agreed targets (usually pizza or chocolate)
  • Off-timetable days for students to focus on single subjects
  • Off-site days for students (usually at a local outdoor activity centre)

With exam season looming, it’s important not to commit time and money into exam interventions that won’t have the desired impact or, moreover, will potentially have detrimental effects. The temptation in schools will always be to visibly do something rather than appear to do nothing. However, before we do anything, there should always be an open and honest debate about the other, better things that could be done with the limited resources we possess. With that in mind, here are some questions to help shape the wider discussion…

  1. Is intervention necessary?
  2. Which interventions ran last year and were they successful?
  3. What differences do we want the intended interventions to make?
  4. What do the students know already?
  5. Which aspects of the curriculum should the students focus on?
  6. Which aspects of the curriculum should be omitted?
  7. Which students should be targeted?
  8. Will the students involved be sufficiently motivated to engage with the sessions?
  9. How should the sessions be sequenced?
  10. What is the best way for the sessions to be delivered?
  11. What are the opportunity costs for the staff involved?
  12. What are the opportunity costs for the students involved?
  13. What are the wellbeing and workload implications for staff?
  14. How will we know that the intended interventions have been effective?

Thanks for reading –



Find blog post on November 2018 AQA English Language Walk-and-Talk Lecture Resources here

AQA English Language

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