It’s no secret that revision isn’t easy. With GCSE-aged students spending almost 5 hours online each day, it’s an uphill battle for teachers fighting to compete with digital distractions. But with exams approaching, how do you get young people to knuckle down? Two school students think they’ve found the answer.
“Past papers were a lifeline when I did my GCSEs,” says Zak Cutner, who is now preparing for A Levels. “But it was boring to practise stuff I could already do – I just wanted to find exam questions on the things I didn’t know.”
Almost two years later and the upshot is Exambrain, a free website for searching past paper questions by topic. It’s been crafted with simplicity in mind. A subject and keyword are all that’s needed to get going, then questions can be filtered down further by exam board, syllabus and paper. The duo have started off with a limited range of subjects, but promise to add more content as they go.
It was a must to be able to share difficult questions with friends and teachers by email or social media.
Their creation is also proving popular with teachers on the hunt for exam questions to put in homeworks and tests. Since launching last month, Exambrain has already been featured in the Royal Society of Biology’s newsletter and is listed as a useful resource by Teach First.
Each question comes with its matching mark scheme and links to print or share it. “I’m always messaging friends when I get stuck on my homework,” says Zac’s friend and co-creator. “So it was a must to be able to share difficult questions with friends and teachers by email or social media.”
Their website doesn’t come without its challenges. With the advent of new GCSE syllabuses coming into effect next year, it’s going to be harder for students to find relevant past paper questions. However, feedback suggests that Exambrain’s vast database of papers will prove useful for teachers to find those questions most similar to new specifications.
Moreover, with a raft of new ideas lined up, the future looks bright for Exambrain. Planned features include a “paper builder” to create a mix and match past paper on just the questions you want to revise. A guest blog tackling exam-related issues, such as revision techniques and stress, is also in the works.