Creating The EverLearner’s new ExamSimulator

Dec 2, 2020 8:14:38 AM / by Elle Houghton

 

Live Launch Event on 21/12/2020, with limited availability.  

Rewatch the LIVE ExamSimulator event

The EverLearner team have been busy creating an exciting new product to add to their online portfolio of over 4,500 lessons available to GCSE and A Level students worldwide.  The new product, called ExamSimulator, will launch in the coming weeks. We caught up with James Simms, Director of The EverLearner, to find out what’s been going on behind the scenes at this inspirational company.

 

James Simms, Teacher of PE, Director of TheEverLearner in FranceJames Simms

Director of The EverLearner

Founder of  myPEexam, Teacher of GCSE and A level PE

 

What is the new ExamSimulator, and how did the idea first develop? 

I was sipping coffee in an office in Romania… We had been developing the initial ideas for the very first version of TheEverLearner.com, and I was thinking of where the business might potentially look to grow and develop in the future. 

As a teacher, I always felt that it would be good to explore how we could help students with their exam prose-writing skills, particularly for their AQA, OCR or EdExcel GCSE PE exams or their A Levels exams. I discussed with our project manager the possibility of how feasible it would be to actually accurately mark prose. He was very honest in saying that it would not be easy!

Just a month later, we had created the very first designs, and we have been tweaking and continuously improving them to build what we have today.  It has been five years in the making, and I’m particularly proud of this major development! 

 

What was the biggest challenge in creating the new ExamSimulator? 

It is content and software based, so the biggest challenges were the costs for the innovation and the time commitment. It has literally taken hundreds of hours to create and perfect.

The financial investment has also been a hurdle. Our income is almost universally from schools, who are spending every penny in an understandably careful manner. For us, it is crucial that we invest that income responsibly in the most innovative and developmental way possible to continue helping schools and their students to achieve the very best they can.

 

How does the new ExamSimulator work?

A teacher can select exam-board-specific questions, and quickly allocate these to their students. The students then write their answers to these questions directly into the platform.  Once they press ‘submit’, our software immediately gives indicative marks on the quality of the answers provided. 

To add to this, the teacher then has a marking environment too. They can look at the things the ExamSimulator has highlighted, which are directly referenced to the exam-board specifications. The teacher can choose to ratify the mark if desired. Once completed, the full analytics are immediately available on both the teacher’s and student’s dashboards.  

This means that both student and teacher will know exactly how they've performed in terms of content, skill and assessment objective and, crucially, it identifies the areas requiring additional support in preparation for their real exams. They will know the legacy of their writing on all the different areas of the specification – and that changes exam performance!

student_answeringThe new ExamSimulator - the student answer environment

 

Does this mean teachers won’t need to do marking anymore? 

That is partially true, but I’d like to answer this on an ethical level. I would not develop a piece of software which would discourage teachers from reading their students’ writing. That would be a dangerous barrier to put into an educational cycle. One of the fundamental processes of an educational cycle is that the teacher reads the students’ writing and feeds back on the writing. And we must enable that.   

The ExamSimulator is more about saving time and highlighting where any gaps in knowledge or improvements to technique can be made, in line with the exact exam-board specifications. It’s a game changer and I guarantee it will drive up exam results.

 

How does the ExamSimulator save teachers’ time? 

The timesaving is predominantly in two areas.

Setting writing: As a teacher myself, I remember literally guillotining and then sticking mock exam papers together, photocopying them and then having those black lines where it’s gone wonky! This saves all of that time. In comparison, I set a mock exam on the new ExamSimulator, which took two minutes eight seconds to set it and allocate it to students.  We estimate that, purely in the savings of printing and photocopying the papers, the ExamSimulator will pay for itself very quickly. 

The format is also much more accessible. Questions could be completed in class or as homework (or as a combination of the two). Teachers could set this as a preloading or as a review of something that the class has studied three months ago. That's hard for teachers to manage when you've got to pull it all together in the traditional way.  

There is also an unlimited capacity and unlimited provision of end-of-unit tests and mock exams that you can make, tweak and refine over time. The potential for this is huge!

 

Analysis of the students’ performance: As soon as the marking has been ratified, all of the analytics are available immediately. This is something that teachers normally just wouldn’t find the time to do.

Additionally, when teachers create their tests, these will be saved forever or until the teachers decide to delete them, meaning they can be used again and again and results can be compared to previous cohorts.

 

marking

The new ExamSimulator - the teacher marking environment

 

What are the benefits for students?

This will have a really positive impact for students. They will now have easy access to high-quality questions and swifter marking and feedback to help focus their studies and exam preparation. The students will do more writing from better questions, on a more regular basis. Those questions will come with sharp and robust mark schemes, which are very specific to the exam-board specification and require the use of the appropriate language. Students will also have access to hundreds of model answers. It’s every teacher’s dream and is guaranteed to drive results up!

Let’s not forget the knock-on effect on students of teachers saving time. That time can be diverted elsewhere, whether that be on work-related or personal tasks. The end result is that, one way or another, the students will benefit. That’s a promise! 

 

When is it available, and how much will it cost? 

The ExamSimulator will be available to all subscribers of The EverLearner from early 2021, with an exclusive live launch available on 21st December 2020.

Rewatch the LIVE ExamSimulator event

The product will be available to all current subscribers completely free until the end of August 2021.

 

You’re a teacher at heart – how does this influence your business decisions? 

Having a background in teaching has really been the key to all of this and, in fact, our whole team has come from the teaching profession. Our company ethos is very different to many other, more commercially focused businesses.  We’re passionate about making high-quality lessons and exam practice accessible to students globally to help them achieve their true potential. This guides everything we do, as well as where and how we responsibly invest our time and money.

The software for the ExamSimulator is both content and software based, so in terms of the time investment it is very, very significant. If you look at other companies, generally speaking, they find the quickest way to scale their product to be whole department, or whole school, but because it is done quickly, the quality and therefore the results of that can sometimes be compromised. 

I literally will not work on things that I don't believe will have an impact to improve education provision. I think that's the main difference.

 

What comes next at TheEverLearner?

The model of the ExamSimulator will be launching in early 2021. As with all our products, we aim to continuously improve and drive up standards, so we will continue fine tuning and perfecting it. In a matter of weeks, we believe the accuracy of the indicative marking will be well over 80%. 

We will also use the ExamSimulator to deliver our own series of national mock exams, set by The EverLearner team, and available across the country for all to use. This will help to establish national data for teachers. 

We are also launching online GCSE and A Level pre-exam conferences, in addition to our last-minute revision, which proves extremely popular every year. 

The EverLearner Academy is also in development. This is the CPD environment for teachers to help develop subject knowledge and classroom skills. 

As you can see, it really is a busy hive of activity and innovation at the moment!

 

Find Out More

The new ExamSimulator is due for general release in January 2021 and will be available first for OCR GCSE PE, AQA GCSE PE and Edexcel GCSE PE, followed shortly after by OCR A Level PE and AQA A Level PE. Development on WJEC courses, BTEC Sport, OCR Nationals and NCFE VCERT courses will follow soon after.

You can add this to your account by clicking the “ExamSimulator” tab on your dashboard and submitting a request, or you can contact the team directly:

elle@theeverlearner.com

Tags: pe, physical education, GCSE PE, A Level PE, exam simulator, OCR GCSE, AQA GCSE, The EverLearner, Edexcel GCSE, WJEC GCSE, ExamSimulator

Elle Houghton

Written by Elle Houghton

Elle is an MFL teacher with over 10 years' experience and the Marketing and Sales Manager at TheEverLearner.