Setting Exams

How Do Teachers Usually Set An Exam?

Most students are tested after completing one or more topic areas of the syllabus. Each topic consists of many simpler concepts, each of which requires the application of a particular formula or technique. Teachers try to incorporate as many concepts as possible in a test.

More importantly, the difficulty level of questions in tests is usually set according to the following approximate format:

  • 50% Easy — These are usually very straightforward questions. They only require the memory of a particular formula, plus basic substitution of data into it.
  • 30% Harder — These questions involve more thought. They require the application of a formula to a problem that isn’t totally straightforward. The use of at least two different concepts might be needed to arrive at the final solution.
  • 20% Difficult — These types of questions are necessary to extend the top students in the class. They usually require thought, problem solving capabilities and possibly some lateral thinking. The use and application of several different concepts or formulae might be required in order to arrive at the final solution.

Let us take two students of “average mathematical ability” and look at their exam results...

Student A Student B
Easy 50% 28% 45%
Harder 30% 15% 23%
Difficult 20% 8% 13%
Totals: 51% 81%

You will notice immediately that Student A obtained a relatively disappointing result while Student B obtained a fairly good result. However, the major difference between the two marks lies in the Easy Recall section of the paper. Student B lost only 5 marks, while Student A lost 22 marks. Student B didn’t achieve significantly higher marks in the more difficult questions of the paper.

The major purpose of these books is to enable students to take full advantage of all the straightforward questions which are always an integral part of any test or exam (ie 50% Easy and most of 30% Harder outlined above.)
As an average student, if you thoroughly know all the simple concepts outlined in these books, then you will certainly start obtaining much better results, like Student B.

However, these books have not been designed solely for average students. More gifted and ambitious pupils will obviously be aiming for 85% or more. These summary books, with challenging extension exercises at the end of each chapter, will also prove very beneficial to top ability groups.