We have just finished our first week this year of Prépa students and got some very good results. We had three students in the school, two of them doing commerciale exams such as BCE and Ecricome, and one doing Sciences-Po (both Paris and the concours commun for the regions). There’s always a moment during the induction session when the students seem to realise that they’ve come to the right place and that they’re in safe hands. Sometimes it’s when I tell them that I go to the oral exams each year to watch, consult and check that what we’re asking students on our courses to do is right. Sometimes it’s when I show the students our classeur of materials, especially the first page, which contains the OISE Prépa “mission statement” – our three key atouts: results relevance and expertise – and points out that the average improvement among students on the OISE course is 4 points out of 20. However, I always point out that this is not a guarantee, but a demand!
Teachers and Teaching Styles
Other times, the students are impressed when they meet their teachers. Last week on the teaching team we had Charles Heppleston, who was Maître de Langues at ENS-Ulm, and Tony Evans, who has taught on the OISE Prépa course for 40 years! I make sure that the students know that we know what they are doing – whether BCE or regional Sciences-Po, etc – and pass on the advice that our examiner contacts ask us to pass on, so that the poor examiners don’t “grincer les dents” (grind their teeth) all through May, June and July!
Last week my teaching team and I could see the students making a real effort to incorporate the examiners’ demands into their own essays and/or colles. The students found this really hard, especially the techniques that we were asking them to use in their introductions, but these techniques are vital – really life or death – when we consider that an examiner might be marking 280 essays in the space of a few weeks, and he or she is not going to have much patience with the typical “scolaire” introductions.
At a certain point in the week the BCE students looked a bit overwhelmed by all the new information, but they calmed down when I told them that we at OISE had seen their problems with colles and essays many times before, and we always managed to solve them by the end of the course. The constant cycle of practice – feedback – adjust practice – feedback that our intensive course allows always produces results. And we get a great deal of satisfaction from helping students solve their problems.