4 Keys to teaching online exam classes for teens

online exam classes with Michael Brand

Our Ready For What’s Next webinar series saw more than 30,000 teachers from over 60 countries enjoy 45 fascinating and diverse talks.  

If you missed any of the sessions you can now watch them all on our YouTube channel. We’ll also be sharing insights from a selected number of webinars on our blog, starting today with Michael Brand’s session on teaching online exam classes for teens 

Let’s take a closer look at what he covered and how he uses his experience as a Pearson and BBC Live Classes trainer and resources from Gold Experience 2nd edition to engage his students.  

What is the key to success in an English exam?


Michael first explained that you need to incorporate a number of key elements in your exam courses for teenage learners. Your students will need to:   

  • Understand the requirements of the exam  
  • Develop exam strategies  
  • Practice these strategies  
  • Have a good level of English  
  • Develop useful global skills such as critical thinking and research skills 

And, of course, students should also have fun and enjoy the classes. Those who look forward to class are more motivated and engaged. As a result, they will also be more focused on achieving their goals.  

So how do we achieve all this in an online exam preparation course? Here are Michael’s top 4 pieces of advice: 

1. Get to know online teaching tools

tools for teaching online exam classes

Michael notes that there are several crucial tools that you’ll use when teaching online: 


Sharing your screen is a good way to show PowerPoint presentations, play quizzes, and watch videos. You can also share a whiteboard just like in an ordinary class. Students can annotate the board too, which keeps them active and engaged.  

Microphone and video  

Your video and microphone not only ensure that your students can see and hear you during the class, but they also make the session feel more like a face-to-face class. Make sure your students have their videos turned to remind them they are still part of a real class – even when it’s online. 

Chat box  

The chat box is a useful tool for online classes. Michael suggests using it for brainstorming, repeating instructions, answering questions, correcting speaking mistakes without interrupting, pasting links and so on.   

You can also download the chat box and share it after the lesson as a written record of the lesson. It also lets you send messages to individual students for specific feedback, questions, or comments during the lesson.  

2. Offer opportunities for speaking practice in Breakout rooms 

Using breakout rooms for teaching online exam classes

Breakout rooms are very useful for speaking practice in pairs and groups – and students enjoy using them. However, there are a few important considerations::  

  • You’ll need to give students clear instructions on what to do  before assigning them to breakout rooms. It’s also a good idea to share these ideas in the chat box so they can refer back to them later.  
  • Students need to know exactly what is expected of them and what they have to produce at the end of the breakout room session.  
  • You can go in and out of rooms to help students and monitor their work.  
  • You can also use the Broadcast Message function to keep students on task.  

Getting students to record themselves is another good tip when it comes to speaking – if they know that people are going to listen back, it gives them added motivation to be accurate.  

3. Give plenty of writing practice 

use google docs to practice writing

Michael says that there are a few things  that can help you when you’re teaching writing during an online course. 

 For productive practice, Google Docs is a useful tool. You can get students to share a Google document with their work, and then use the “suggestions” option to give qualitative feedback on how to improve their work. The edits history also gives students an easy way to review your corrections.  

You can also give oral feedback to written work, sharing your screen and highlighting good parts and problematic sections. Screencast-o-matic is a free screen recorder, and it’s a good way of recording your feedback to send to students. What’s more, a video recording allows for that personal touch.  

4. Use a learning management system 

Learner management systems for teaching online exam classes

Michael explains that Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been around for a while, but the move to digital learning has really accelerated their use. These systems allow you to do things like create classes, have discussion boards and set work which can be automatically graded, alongside other features. 

If you have access to a learning management system, you’ll receive lots of information on your students’ performance.  You can then use this to personalize homework, offer added support and set lots of practice activities for your students.  

Learn more 

To hear more from Michael about teaching online exam classes, watch the full webinar now:  

You’ll get lots of ideas for fun activities and useful exercises to do with your students. For more ideas to engage teenage learners online watch this webinar Michael presented at the Pearson English Spring Days series.

Gold Experience 2nd Edition 

Teach exam classes online with Gold Experience 2nd Edition

The specific exercises in the webinar are taken from Gold Experience 2nd edition, which are designed to help students prepare for their Cambridge English exams. The 8-level course is aimed at teenage learners, with lots of engaging topics, authentic video content and an independent learning strand. The course also comes with the latest digital tools to help you teach online exam classes.

To learn more and download a free sample, visit the Gold Experience website 

Pearson and BBC Live Classes  

pearson english live classes

Michael is also one of the trainers for Pearson and BBC Live Classes. An award-winning project that brings together groups of secondary students from all around the world in a single virtual classroom.   

Find out more about Live Classes or Register now!  

How do you make teaching online exam classes fun for your teenage students? Let us know in the comments.

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