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As the time for year-end review (or even end-of-semester review) arrives, we always seem to be in a bit of a mad dash to cram in a few review classes before students head to their final exams, am I right?

Leaving Time For Year-End Review

So, the first step is to schedule time for year-end-review.  While there is usually a block for this on the syllabus, it can be a challenge. At least, that’s the ways it’s seemed to me in the university teaching realm, over the last couple years. Actually, even with private tutoring students I find that by the time we get to the end of the syllabus I create for them every semester, we run out of time for review!)

(By the way, take my Profitable Organized English Teacher course if you want to learn all my lesson planning tricks! I’m here to help you every step of the way). 

The Awesome Year-End Review “Speed Studying Game”

This year, I decided to try something new to get students excited about end of year review. In fact, I was finding that Kahoot and other quiz games got tiring quite quickly.  

Here’s the game:

What Is “Speed Studying”?

You know about “speed dating”, right?  It’s where you have 2 minutes to talk to one person and get to know them before moving on to the next. Well, for year-end review, I created Speed Studying!  Students move from one person to the other, answering exam questions (rather than getting to know their contestant)

Speed Study Game Cards

How To Play

First, have students set up tables in a long row, so they face each other.  If you have more than 10 students (5 pairs facing each other), have two tables.

Next, assign students to be on “Side A” or “Side B”.   Side A will be the “Experts” and Side B will be the “Contestants”.  


Hand each person a question card. Give them 5 minutes to create an answer to the question that they would accept for 0, 1 or 2 points. Try to have them be as detailed as possible!   Experts will stay put during the game, and give contestants a score based on their answer.


During the 5 minutes, contestants can review their study packs, or whatever material you have previously given them to review for the exam. Contestants will move from “expert” to “expert” every 2.5 minutes.  They will have this time to fully explain the answer to their question, and write down the score each expert has given them.

Then, set an online countdown clock timer for 2.5 minutes. Of course, ensure students know which direction they are moving – to the right- when the counter goes off.

After 5 rounds  (when all the contestants have answered all experts’ questions), be sure to have them switch roles. Of course, you’ll need new question cards. I had two tables set up (as I had about 20 participants) and had the students switch tables.

That’s it!  I find students have a blast with this, even though they complain about moving at first. It’s also great to see them working out answers to the questions together. If they’re really stuck, I let them use their notes or textbooks  😉 


You can grab the customizable, fillable game cards in the Printables Library to get started with your class! You have access, right?

If you don’t, click the button below to sign up today (there’s a whole host of freebies waiting for you).

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Lessons I Learned – Do’s And Don’ts for Year-End Review

When we make up games, they sometimes seem a little better and smoother in our imaginations than they are in reality. So, of course I wanted to make sure you all got the benefit of my experience trying this out with 4 classes:

Do:How To Get Students Excited About Vocabulary Learning
  • Be sure to explain the instructions really well, as students normally haven’t played this type of game before
  • Have a scorecard!  When I make a more complete version of the game for next academic year (and I open my Teachers Pay Teachers store), I’ll have a complete game set ready for all of you to try out, too.  As the game was a new invention for this year-end review, I had students use pieces of paper. It was a bit too disorganized, especially since uni students these days don’t always have paper on hand!
  • Use an online countdown bell/clock!
  • Let students be on the “A” side for the whole game; they need to switch to “B”, as well.  If they are reluctant to move, remind them that it’s part of the fun!
  • If you’re playing with kids, I’d suggest making sure there is some water or other hydration around. I had a TESL prof at McGill University who always swore by three things to make his ESL classes great – water, laughter, and movement. It’s worked for me every time, even with adults
  • Set the timer for too long per turn, or students start to chat amongst themselves and lose interest in the game.
Not quite sure…
  • Should we give students in Seat “A” the answers?  Personally, I liked my original idea of having my students take the time at the beginning of class to find answers they will “accept” for 0, 1, or 2 points
  • How many students should be at each table? I found 5 worked okay, but students did get tired of “being the expert” on occasion. 

For even more games (for ESL or English classes), check out these vocabulary ones.


3 Extra Tips To Help Students Study

We all know the questions that pop-up all through the semester – is this going to be on the exam?  A simple “yes” answer often gets students to perk up more than the games we’ve just played, right?

1.  Take Margin Notes 

I’m often surprised at how little note-taking students do (even when they are in university!). In fact, even when I’m teaching First Certificate or Cambridge Advanced level English to adults preparing for the exam, I help them learn to take margin notes.  Even a few words summarizing How to Study For The FCEa section can truly help them remember and digest the content!

2. Make Examples Personally Relevant

Actually, I heard about this tip from a friend studying foreign language grammar. Someone had suggested to him to replace the names in grammar exercises with people he knew, thus making it more interesting and perhaps easier to remember.  Though I’m not sure the grammar itself would be easier to remember, making examples personally relevant can definitely solidify concepts.

For example, when teaching Human Resources at a business university this past term, and teaching communication skills, I tried to have students come up with their own examples of stressful communication situations. 

3. Gamify While You Study

Using Kahoot, Quizlet and other quiz or polling tools to “gamify” up your classroom review usually works well. However, I find that students do tend to work through the material again if you assign them quizzes for homework, or even let them access the same Kahoot quiz online for practice. Get them to work in teams and watch their competitive spirits in action 😉 

What interactive tools do you use in the classroom, or with your private tutoring students for year-end review?  I’d love to hear from you and I read and respond to every comment 🙂 

Have a lovely and productive end of term!


P.S. Photography lovers, I’d like to let you know I borrowed a photo to help create today’s main image (royalty-free, from Unsplash). Photo by Zhen Hu on Unsplash

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