This is a lesson that I used with my classes recently as a review before they did a progress test.  It would also work pretty well as an impromptu cover class in an emergency!

What I did:

I looked through the book just before the class and identified 10 key grammatical areas and vocabulary areas that we had worked on (and that I knew were going to come up on the test).

In the lesson I put the students into groups of four.  I divided the board into ten columns and numbered each column going from ten down to one.

Each group had to show me their answers before they could move onto the next category and I didn’t write up the next category until a team had got a correct set of answers for the previous category.

As an example, here are the categories I used with a group of 12-year-old elementary learners:

  • 10 – ten places in a town
  • 9 – nine personality adjectives
  • 8 – eight household chores (as verb-noun collocations)
  • 7 – seven superlative adjectives
  • 6 – six predictions for the future (in sentence form)
  • 5 – five sentences using the present perfect
  • 4 – four questions using the past simple
  • 3 – three uncountable nouns
  • 2 – two nouns with defining relative clauses
  • 1 – a 20 word description of someone in the room


The kids loved it and I did it again (adapted for a different level) with another YL group the following week, who also really got into it and enjoyed both the competitive element (racing to be first to finish) and the review element.  With both groups, the activity as given took about 50 minutes.

I thought that to make it fit a longer lesson time, you could lead in with a board race where teams have to write up the grammar and vocabulary areas covered thus far on the course, or alternatively, you could get the areas onto the board with a “backs to the board” / “hotseat” activity.  That might work better as learners aren’t always aware of the labels we give these areas and it would provide support for the ten to one activity.

As a closing activity, my intention was to get different teams to write up their answers on the board in the relevant columns, but we didn’t have time for that in class.  Still it could also be used as a way of correcting any structural errors, and in the case of the vocabulary, extending the review beyond what each team came up with.


If you use this activity, do drop in and let me know how it went in the comments – equally, if you have any successful adaptations, I’d love to hear them!