If your son or daughter is studying for their GCSEs, A Levels or Pre-U they’ve most likely just sat mock exams and their mock results will be arriving. This blog post is to help you understand the significance of the mocks and how you can support your daughter or son to do their best in their upcoming exams.
Mock results may be given formally in an envelope, perhaps electronically, or they might receive them in class. Try to keep tabs on when the mock results are coming out. Some students will be very apprehensive about this so try to stay calm whatever they are.
If your child is happy with their result it’s still important to evaluate why it went well, and ideally, they should write down their answers to these questions:
Which revision strategies did they use?
How did they practise exam technique?
What will they do to maintain this?
If your child is unhappy with their result consider:
* Did they revise? This is a tricky question as often students feel embarrassed that they did revise and it went wrong in the mock. It’s really important to distinguish whether it was a lack of revision, understanding, or difficulties with exam technique.
* Are there particular topics they scored lower on?
* Were there particular assessment objectives (AOs) they scored lower on? An assessment objective might be to describe, analyse or evaluate.
Here are some top tips. As much as possible follow up your child’s progress with these. The more they talk to you about their learning the better they do.
Technique / Assessment objectives Tips
* Give yourself a time limit when answering exam questions; it doesn’t need to be as strict as the exam but a maximum of 25% extra.
* Review mock feedback, if your child doesn’t understand encourage them to ask their teacher.
* Look at the definitions for the assessment objectives (AOs) so that you are clear on what the examiner is looking for. See if your child can explain them to you.
* Pick some practice questions that test the AOs, plan how you would answer the question and then write the answer, ask your teacher for feedback.
* Ensure your child has a specification for each of their exams.
Some teachers will call these knowledge organisers. Ask your child to rate each topic using green, yellow and orange highlighters. Green representing confident, yellow ok and orange unsure.
* Make ‘star’ cards, I credit this idea to Mr Steve Carter.
It’s a great strategy for your child’s most challenging topics. After reading their notes and textbook on the topic make a flashcard/A4 sheet covering all the key content. Keep all the ‘star’ cards together and review one each day. It’s important that these cards aren’t done for every topic otherwise the task becomes meaningless. Save only for the most difficult. Once your child feels more confident, they should practise some exam questions on the topic and see how they’ve progressed.
* Create a revision timetable.
It’s important this is realistic. A few suggestions; time slots should be a maximum of 40 minutes. Plan in free and fun time, and ideally exercise several times a week. Remember to include paid jobs, extra-curricular activities. Mix up each evening with a favourite subject and a least favourite subject. Remember you’ll need to include your usual homework time too. Where possible try to reward your child for sticking to their timetable.
* Learning journal.
Some students really embrace this idea and it works fantastically. I’ve seen multiple students go from D/C grades to A*/A grades because they’ve tried this strategy. Buy your child a nice journal. Each day they record one or two points of what they’ve learned that day, record their homework and revision. They can also write down any questions about things they found difficult and then follow them up. It becomes very rewarding and satisfying seeing how much work they have achieved!
* Does your child have a friend who could be a ‘study buddy’ perhaps one is stronger on certain topics and vice versa?
Learning together has so many advantages including forming stronger memories because of the social connection and dopamine neurotransmitter released (which is associated with learning). The Tutor Team can arrange study buddy tutorials for your child and a friend, which will have all these advantages and will also save you money on tutoring costs.
Become exam aware
* Practise exam questions and mock papers regularly as the exams approach. Try numbering a list of questions, then using a random number generator to select the two or three questions you’re going to answer.
* Read the examiner’s reports, these are readily available on the exam boards websites. They are a fountain of knowledge highlighting the most common pitfalls and strongest answers.
Often after mock results come out there will be a parents evening, this is a great time for you to ask detailed questions about your child’s progress and what they need to do to develop future and prepare for the exams. If your child has coursework you can find out if any work is outstanding.
Top tips for Parents evening
Re-read any recent report
Talk to your child about their mock results and class and home assessments, are there any reoccurring mistakes or areas for development?
Take a pen and paper
Ask about extra revision sessions, revision tools and books
Find out when the exams are, under stress students often become muddled with exam timetables so it’s helpful if you’re aware of the dates
If it’s not clear from the mock feedback/report find out two or three clear action points
Fatal or Fruitful February
Ask any teacher and they will tell you that students are the least motivated in February. The stressful mock exam period is usually followed by stress-related colds and absence, then there’s the realisation they’ve got tons of information to revise and still lots of the course yet to cover, topped off with the impending coursework deadlines and the dreaded exams. It’s not surprising students really struggle in this month. I’ve named it fatal February because this is where it can all go wrong, however, this month is also the time when students can really turn things around. It’s never too late! If your son or daughter needs support with their studies please contact The Tutor Team to find out how we can help.
Anything you can do this month to help raise your child’s spirits will be beneficial to keeping them motivated for their long-term goals.
Jessica is a psychologist who loves inspiring and encouraging others to develop. She is also published in ethics and cognitive psychology – See her profile here
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