Resource

Exam command words: a case study from William Perkin School

Added 24 Jul 2018

Understanding different command words is essential to answering an exam question effectively. William Perkin School participated in our workshop Understanding the Literacy Requirements of the new GCSEs. Following the training, teacher Joanna Paterson and her colleagues developed a framework and guidebook for students and teachers to better understand command words in different subjects – this case study explores their process.

The resource

The workshop emphasised the importance of teaching tier 2, cross-curricular vocabulary and command words. It inspired Joanna to develop an ‘Exam Command Word Booklet’ as a revision tool for Year 11 students. This clarifies exactly what the command words are asking students to do in each different subject. Following successful implementation there are plans to roll out the booklet to Year 10 and 11 students and embed it into the school's KS4 teaching practice.

Feedback from students includes:

  • “It was good to be able to compare command words across subjects and to know how to differentiate your answers and revision approaches based on the booklets.”
  • “The booklet is useful because it tells you what every type of question requires and how you should answer it. In some lessons the teachers could tell you how to use it for assistance.”
  • “I could use it for practise questions and to create questions that could potentially come up in the exam.”

The case study includes:

  • Identification of the problem
  • Creation of the resource, working with the school's 'Literacy Working Party'
  • Putting usage of the booklet into practice
  • Impact on students
  • Plans to refine and roll out the resource