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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

Exam Tip #5: Uncle X’s Report

Let’s imagine you’ll soon be sitting an exam (not much imagination needed there).

But let’s also imagine you have an uncle who is an examiner. He writes and marks exam papers and it just so happens he’s the person who’s written the exam you’re about to sit.

Let’s call him ‘Uncle X’ (X for examiner).

If Uncle X were corrupt or dishonest, he might pass you some inside information about what questions will be in your future exam.

Frustratingly, your beloved Uncle X is as honest as the day is long and cannot be bought for love nor money.

“However”, he says with a twinkle in his eye, “I could pass you some inside information about what common mistakes were made in last year’s exam. I could write you a little summary of where students slipped up, the things they could have done to score a few extra points, and so on.”

“Okay”, you mutter apprehensively, ‘“how much is it going to cost me?”

“Nothing at all!” he roars laughing. “I’ve even posted it online already so everyone can read it!”



You might not have a real Uncle X, but someone does and, true to his word, every year Uncle X writes a report assessing the previous exam, how it was received, where students slipped up and what got extra marks.

The Uncle X who does the physics exam might point out that many students last year lost points because they didn’t state their definitions clearly enough.

The one doing history might admit that a third of students lost marks in Question 3 because they gave general answers rather than adapting their answer to the question.

The report I’m referring to is called the Examiners’ Report. It’s a collection of comments and observations made by the people who marked the exam about how candidates did.

It’s full of pearls of wisdom—valuable nuggets of information about what the examiners are looking for, where students lost marks and where they gained them.

Along with the corresponding past paper, the Examiners’ Report is like a doctor’s report of ailments a patient is suffering from and how to remedy them.

So get online, type in ‘Examiners’ Report’ plus the name and year of the relevant exam paper along with the name of your exam board (e.g. A-level French 2020 Edexcel) and voila! There you have it.

Print it off.

Read it thoroughly.

Highlight the juicy bits and then get them tattooed on your arm—or at least stick them to your mirror.

It’s valuable inside information that’s freely available to anyone who cares to look for it.

Possibly, the most amazing thing about the Examiners’ Report is that most students don’t even know it exists.

So by doing this, not only are you getting valuable inside knowledge, but it’s also putting you ahead of the rest which surely will help you get better grades.

Tip 5: Get hold of the Examiners’ Reports and use them.

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