Features of Effective Worksheets

There are many different types of worksheet, but we can discern some common features that tend to make any worksheet work better for your students. When selecting or making a worksheet, bear in mind that an effective worksheet:

  • is clear
  • clearly labels questions/tasks with numbers or letters (so they can easily be referred to orally during feedback or answers)
  • is straightforward and fit for purpose; unnecessary complication, colour etc detracts from its usefulness
  • is appropriate to the age, level and ability of the students
  • can be created (and stored) on a computer and is thus easy to edit and print repeatedly
  • has excellent presentation
  • has a font that is easy to read and of large enough size
  • uses images for a specific purpose only, and without cluttering up the worksheet
  • does not have irrelevant graphics and borders
  • has margins that are wide enough to avoid edges getting cut off when photocopying
  • makes good use of space without being cluttered
  • has a descriptive title at the top and a space for the student to write their name
  • gives students sufficient space to write their answers
  • has clear, unambiguous instructions
  • uses bold OR italics OR underline for emphasis, but not all three
  • uses colour sparingly, and with regard to available photocopying resources/costs
  • focusses on one learning point (except perhaps for more advanced students)
  • is no longer than one or two pages (that is, front and back of a single sheet)
  • should be accessible to the learner (at that level) and answerable in a relatively short period, say 5 to 15 minutes (worksheets are not exam papers)
  • should have the easier tasks first - success is motivational
  • only uses images that can be photocopied clearly (line drawings, for example, tend to photocopy better than photographs)
  • if appropriate is divided into sections, each with a clear heading
  • is not formal or stuffy; instead it uses words in a way that encourages students to explore and learn on their own

Types of Worksheet