Many students have been sitting, or are set to sit, mock 13+, GCSE or A-level exams. I’ve never met a student who enjoys mocks – they’re stressful and disruptive (studying for these exams is not very compatible with a relaxing Christmas and New Year…).
Parents are often surprised by their children’s mocks results. Some are pleasantly reassured by a formal confirmation that their son or daughter is continuing in line with, or surpassing, teachers’ predictions. Others are disappointed, finding it difficult to reconcile results with recent complimentary end-of-term school reports, consistently high marks in the ongoing informal classroom tests and/or quantity of pre-mocks studying they had seen in the weeks or even months before.
Students can suffer a hefty knock to self-confidence and become disheartened if their mocks results aren’t in line with expectations and parents may feel uneasy, but the mocks play a vital role in the exam calendar. Teachers use the mocks to identify topics the class as a whole is finding challenging and to plan lessons accordingly. More generally, schools may use the mocks as another important factor when considering students’ predicted grades, for use internally and for circulation to the other institutions that may require them – if a student is seeking to enter another school’s sixth form, the student’s school will be asked to send predicted GCSE grades, while a student’s predicted A-level grades are included in the school’s Ucas undergraduate reference.
Entrance exams and academic qualification exams are significant. How students perform may impact which subjects they will be able to study next and where they will be able to study. The exams are substantial too, coming at the end of a vast two- or three-year syllabus. Candidates may find themselves facing questions centred on a particular topic, subtopic, sub-subtopic or even a particular (obscure) example or counterexample that tests their depth of knowledge and ability to apply analytical/interpretive skills in unexpected contexts against the clock.
The mocks serve as a crucial rehearsal which:
Parents and students should try not to feel stressed by the mock results. These are, after all, ‘mocks’ – simulations organised in advance so that students have time to prepare appropriately for the ‘main event’.
Parents can help their children greatly at this time by:
Experienced tutors can make a substantial impact supporting students preparing for 13+, GCSE or A-level exams. A subject specialist with deep curriculum understanding can structure an effective programme of exam tuition that complements the student’s learning and revision at school. The tutor can help the student reinforce, stretch and deepen subject knowledge, move through blocks in understanding, develop exam techniques and build self-confidence for that final, real event.