Home > A Level, Assessment, GCSE, KS3, Maths, Teaching > The importance of presentation

The importance of presentation

Exercise books, what are they for?

The name suggests they are there for learners to complete exercises in, but if that’s all they are for then they are pointless. If that is all they are for then we would be better off replacing them with slates! Or the modern day equivalent- mini-whiteboards.

I think they are, or rather should, be tools of learning beyond that. The exercise book a learner finishes should become a tool for revision. They should be able to look back over it and see how to solve problems, see the mistakes they made and see how to correct them.

I’ve often thought a two book system might work. One book to house rules and examples, and one to house work. But again, is practice is the only function of the second, then a rulebook and a whiteboard would be sufficient.

Whether using a one or a two book system I think there can be value in keeping the book that houses exercises, but that value only comes if the work is presented correctly. A well presented book will provide a fantastic tool for revision. Rules, notes and examples will be clear, and exercises will be laid out in a way that enables learners to quickly spot any misconceptions they once had and move past them, ensuring that they don’t make those mistakes again in future.

A recent bit of cover work I set has unearthed this misconception amongst four or five learners who seem to get confused on split variable equations where the x term is negative. This gives me something to go over, and gives those who set out their working a good reference for the future:


Where as this student has no such thing. He is naturally one of the best matheticians in the class, but needs some real training. The majority of his book looks this:


When marking this weekend I was extremely pleased with the presentation from the vast majority, who have crafted brilliant tools that will help them no end, come exam time.


This is how I remember my books looking. Albeit with far messier and much smaller handwriting!

I thought I’d check, but I don’t have any of my old school books, I did find some work from my time at university, I was setting work out well then:


  1. November 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. November 16, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Interesting, in my AS and A2 classes the tiered exercises I get them to do in class form part of their notes. I give them the scaffold of how to approach the questions in the group examples and then hope they can make some of the discoveries themselves by combining elements of the curriculum.

    I remind them that the purpose of the tiered examples is to get them to do less of the repetitve worksheet and more of the problem solving aspect while I am there to support their learning. They form as much of their notes as the bits I supply.

    The bit that really cracks me up is when they go to rub any mistakes when I show them any errors they have made. What good is having spotless work? You’ll never look twice as spotless work. Annotated work with arrows, circles and colours depicting exactly where your natural tendencies let them down is much more useful.

    If nothing else, it serves to show how much progress they have made throughout the year, another very important aspect of measuring progress.

    Great post.

    • November 16, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      That’s the thing that gets me too, one of my year tens last year used to rip pages out and rewrite them if she made a mistake!

  1. November 17, 2014 at 8:51 pm

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