Why mock exams are more important than ever in 2020-1
Last week the Scottish government announced that they were cancelling the country's National 5 exams, the Scottish equivalent of GCSEs, for students sitting them in the summer of 2021. They have also pushed the dates of their Higher and Advanced Higher exams back and are developing contingency plans for the cancellation of these exams, with checkpoints in place up until February 2021. (Source, Sky News).
This begs questions for students taking GCSEs and A-Levels about what might happen to their exams.
We all know that, because of the pandemic, things are uncertain at the moment. But what does this uncertainty mean for students going through the motions of everyday study – and particularly, what does it mean for their mocks?
Why mock exams are more important than ever in 2020-1
We all saw what happened with GCSE and A-Level results in the summer of 2020 because exams were cancelled. Teachers were asked to submit Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs), and ultimately the grades that students were awarded were these CAGs.
These CAGs had to be based on evidence that a student had proven they could perform at a certain level. Schools used different forms of evidence, but mock grades were a very important reference point in the process. Some students, who didn't take mocks seriously last year were left very disappointed by their results, particularly if they were planning to get their act together at the last minute.
This means that students preparing for GCSE or A-Level exams in the summer of 2021 should be taking their mock exams more seriously than ever.
Take your mocks seriously
In the past, I've written about how you should take your mocks as a learning opportunity. By going through the motions of mocks – seeing how you revise, cope with lots of exams back to back and look after yourself through the process – you gain really helpful experience which, when you reflect on it, can help you to improve the way you prepare and conduct yourself for the real thing.
I've also raised the question of whether you should let your child fail their mocks. In the past, allowing your teen to experience failure, for some, has been what has finally kicked them into action. Failure, after all, is only failure if you don't learn from it.
However, this year, we don't have that luxury. I'm not going to make any political predictions about whether GCSEs and A-Levels will go ahead this year or not. But, we are in a situation where anything could happen.
If GCSEs and/or A-Levels are cancelled again every student needs to have proven to their teachers what their best work looks like, and it's ideal to do that in exam conditions as it's more robust evidence. That means everyone needs to take mocks much more seriously this year than ever before.
If GCSEs and A-Levels do go ahead, this effort will not have been wasted as it's excellent preparation for the ‘real thing' and will put you ahead in terms of revision compared to students in a ‘normal' year.
How to help your teen prepare for mocks
Students often struggle to prepare for mocks for a couple of reasons:
- They're not the actual exams, the real ones being a long way off, so they don't see the urgency
- They don't know how to revise effectively so put it off
Seeing the urgency
In dealing with the first of those reasons, I suggest you share this blog post with your child and talk about the most sensible strategy to deal with all the scenarios we might face with their exams this year. I had a conversation like this with the student members of The Extraordinaries Club last week as there were some who were feeling very laid back saying that the exams were so far away. They seemed to take on board the fact that they couldn't afford to be laid back about it all this year.
Teaching them how to revise effectively
If your teen wants to do the wise thing and take their mocks seriously, but they don't know how to revise, I can help. I will be holding one of my very popular Revision Kickstarter online workshops on Saturday 17th October from 9:30-11:30 am. During the workshop your child will:
- Prioritise what to revise in a quick, easy and repeatable way so that they don't get overwhelmed by trying to revise everything
- Decide which revision techniques to use so that they don't waste time on things that don't work for them
- Create a personalised and flexible plan for their revision over October half-term so that they know what they need to get done and when, and when they're going to take a well-earned rest
- Find out how to incorporate a little bit of revision into every day so that they don't fall off the revision train when they get back to school
The workshop will be very practical – it's about getting a revision plan sorted so that your child knows what to do to get to work as soon as it's over.
Hundreds of students have now done one of these workshops over the last three years. One mum said afterwards, “That was the best money I have ever spent!”
When you sign-up you'll also have access to all extended revision advice inside The Extraordinaries Club such as the Exam Technique Masterclass, the Optimise Your Revision Techniques and Revise for Results modules and the masterclasses on how to revise the core GCSE academic subjects such as maths, English, sciences, history, geography, French and German.
Mocks are more important than ever
Whether you decide to come along to the Revision Kickstarter or not, I want you to take away the key message that mocks are more important than ever this year. On top of that, I strongly believe that students should be turning up for their lessons, and their home study, in a much more serious way than many usually do this year. This is so that you're proving to your teachers day-in-day-out why you deserve a particular grade. And, if the exams do happen as planned, none of this effort will be wasted – it's sure to translate into very pleasing grades next summer.