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Exam vocabulary: how I help my students learn it on their own

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

I've recently written a post about my students learning and revising grammar. Today I'd like to show you how they tackle the task of studying and revising all of the vocabulary they need for their end of school exam.

This school year, my kiddos have to revise and/or learn the vocabulary from 13 different topics. This is one of the state requirements in Poland and the exam which they take near the end of grade 8 (the last grade of primary school) is based on the vocabulary from those 13 sets.

We've covered the majority of exam vocab throughout their primary education, but there's still loads left to learn and even more to revise. So I came up with a couple of quite simple materials to help my students organise their learning.

The first idea I had was simple word cards with the English word on one side and the Polish meaning on the other side. The kids got really into it. I guess it was the simplicity that spoke to them. They use the word cards in various ways: some of them simply work with the cards dividing them into the words they know, and the ones they need to learn; some kids use my word cards to make their own (I have blank flashcards available in the classroom); some kids turn the words they don't know into Quizlet sets; some students work in pairs testing each other.

To make the word cards I used 4 different lists of vocabulary on each topic and I also added the words which I didn't find on the lists but I knew I covered with the kids in previous years. I ended up creating sets of anything between 150 to 250 words.

On the inside of the boxes I've put QR codes for Quizlet sets. Now, the sets on Quizlet are not the same as the cards in boxes. I've used McMillan's sets they've created for their Repetytorium. I did it because ... well ... McMillan were nice enough to create those sets and share them on Quizlet for free. THANK YOU! But also to show my kids that the list of words I created for them is not everything and they might find more words on the topic somewhere else.

The next thing is the "Test yourself" box. I don't test my kids on the vocab. We had a lesson at the beginning of the school year where I told them they need to learn this vocabulary before the exam and it's up to them when they want to learn what and how. I made it very clear that they're doing it for themselves and not for me. The only rule we have is that they have to get 80% on a test they'll make for themselves before they can move on to the next set. So once they think they're ready they take this box: