Year 10 exams: Everything you need to know - Life More Extraordinary with Lucy Parsons

Year 10 exams: Everything you need to know

Is your child in year 10? Are you wondering about their end of year exams? In this article, you can find out everything you need to know about year 10 exams including answers to the following questions:

  • Are year 10 exams important?
  • What are year 10 mocks exams?
  • How seriously should you take year 10 exams?
  • When are year 10 exams?
  • Will year 10 do GCSE exams in 2022?
  • How do you revise for year 10 exams?

If you'd prefer to listen to the podcast version of this article, please click play on the podcast player above, or listen to it on Apple podcasts or search for The School Success Formula in your podcast player of choice.

Year 10 exams: Everything you need to know

What are year 10 exams?

Year 10 exams are part of a school's normal cycle of assessment. Schools run them to gauge where students are at in terms of their progress at the end of the first year of GCSE study (for most schools).

The content of year 10 exams, which can also be thought of as end of year exams, is usually everything that students have learned during that academic year – but teachers will usually let students know which bits of the curriculum they'll be tested on so they can focus on those areas in their revision.

Why year 10 exams are useful for teachers

Teachers use assessment, such as end of year exams, to understand their students' progress and to understand more about their strengths and weaknesses in terms of subject knowledge and skills. This enables them to adjust their teaching to help students with weaker areas.

Some schools and departments within schools may also use the exams to re-assign students to different sets to make sure they're in a teaching group that is working at an appropriate pace and depth for how each student is doing.

Why year 10 exams are useful for students and parents

Year 10 exams are useful for students because they get to understand:

  • Which parts of the curriculum they know and understand well
  • Which parts of the curriculum they need to pay more attention to
  • Practice their revision skills before they get into year 11
  • Get their first taste of what GCSE exams are going to be like

Are year 10 exams important?

Year 10 exams are an important step on the journey towards final GCSE exams. The results don't mean anything material in the long-term – their importance is more in terms of giving students the experience of taking exams (it's like their first set of mock exams) and also giving both students and teachers a clearer idea of where they're at in their learning and what they need to work on next.

As with all mock exams, they're as valuable as the learnings you get from them. So, if you don't take them very seriously, don't get very good results and don't spend any time thinking about or reflecting on the results they're virtually useless. Whereas, if you try to do your best and spend time reflecting on what went well, what didn't and what you'll change about how you prepared for your next round of mocks they're a really helpful part of the long term preparation for GCSE exams.

Find out more about how to get the most out of your mocks here.

Year 10 exams are as valuable as the learnings you get from them. Click To Tweet

How seriously should you take year 10 exams?

A very common pattern that I see as an academic coach is students doing really badly in their year 10 exams and their parents then having a major panic. They seek out academic coaching or become members of The Extraordinaries Club to try to plug the gaps and help their children to get up to speed in year 11.

I remember one family who were members of The Extraordinaries Club in particular. The son had done really badly in his year 10 exams, getting 2s and 3s in each subject. His mum was really shocked by his low grades and really worried because he needed good enough grades to get into a boarding school in the UK (they were living in Europe and he couldn't stay at his international school to do A-Levels).

She did some googling and discovered Life More Extraordinary academic coaching. She then signed up for The Extraordinaries Club. This is what she said two months after joining the club:

“In just two months my son has more direction and he feels he is becoming better prepared and more confident as he gains the necessary tools required to study more effectively. My son now has strategies in place to become more organised and to manage his time better. If he starts to veer away from these then he can revisit the videos, blogs and even the Coaching Calls to help get back on track and keep motivated to reaching his goal.

As the Extraordinaries Club is aimed at both parents and students we are now both singing off the same sheet – whereas before this wasn't the case. I also know that if it was just me making the suggestions and giving him advice he wouldn't take it seriously. Lucy has a way of engaging with the students and they do listen. As a parent I feel that Lucy genuinely does care about how well our children perform and she is passionate about delivering the different methods and coping strategies to them.

Having just attended the first Year 11 Parent's Evening, I can honestly say that it felt as though we were discussing a completely different boy from the one we had at the end of Year 10.”

He went on to get very respectable GCSE results and got into the sixth form he wanted to.

Let them fail or do everything you can to help them succeed?

This is the decision you need to make when you're approaching year 10 exams as a parent. Some students really benefit from the shock of doing really badly, and getting the proverbial kick up the backside.

Other students don't cope very well with failure. If they fail they either write themselves off or they become very anxious and push themselves too hard.

You know your child best and you know how to manage their psychology. You need to decide whether letting them learn from their own mistakes is the best strategy or whether you need to support them to do as well as possible.

My advice as an academic coach

Year after year I've seen this pattern of failure in year 10 exams and families having to pick up the pieces in year 11. It's not pretty and it's not easy. Year 11 is tough right from the start. Many schools now run GCSE mocks in November and then again in February or March – which means that almost from the first day of year 11 students will be revising for mocks. This leaves very little time to actually learn how to study and revise properly (which is what I teach students in The Extraordinaries Club).

Nearly every family I work with says they wish they'd joined the club sooner when they had a bit more time and capacity to learn the study skills before the pressures of year 11 start. This is why I advise families to join The Extraordinaries Club in year 10.

Will year 10 do GCSE exams in 2022?

I'm writing this in spring 2021, not long after students have gone back to school after the second coronavirus lockdown.

This is the second year that GCSE exams have been cancelled and some people are beginning to speculate that they will be cancelled again in 2022 because of the amount of learning time that students have missed.

I believe that the government will want to press ahead with GCSE exams as normal next year. They were very reluctant to cancel them in 2021 and only did so because of the second lockdown when those students had already had their learning disrupted by the first lockdown and a term of bubbles bursting and self-isolations.

We have to assume that GCSE exams will go ahead in 2022 until it's announced that they're not, and looking at the current government's track record they won't make this announcement until very late in the next school year, if they're forced to.

This means that year 10 exams in 2021 are part of the build-up GCSE exams in 2022 and should be taken seriously – particularly as a way to consolidate lockdown learning during year 10.

When are year 10 exams held?

Year 10 exams are held at some point in the summer term. Some schools hold them as early as the beginning of May but most won't hold them until after the May half-term. In 2021 I would expect most schools to hold them after June 18th which is the deadline for submitting this year's GCSE and A-Level teacher assessed grades.

Get more information about what to expect at different points of the academic year in the GCSE and A-Level years here.

How to revise for year 10 exams

These are the basic steps you need to follow to revise effectively for year 10 exams:

  1. Get a list of what you need to know for each subject – ask subject teachers for this
  2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses – this means you can focus your revision on your weaknesses, which are the things that will make the most difference in these exams and in your build-up to GCSE exams
  3. Choose active revision techniques like making and testing yourself using flashcards and doing past papers using the Revision Power Hour
  4. Review how you did and make a plan for future exams using the exam season review

If you'd like more detailed guidance on how to set up an effective revision strategy for year 10 exams, come along to my Revision Kickstarter Workshop on Saturday 15th May. During the live workshop, I will guide students through creating a personalised revision plan, that can just be revisited and tweaked as they go through year 11. You will also get access to a series of subject-specific How to Revise masterclasses which give students revision tips and exam technique for the core academic subjects.

Click here to find out more about the next Revision Kickstarter Workshop.

They happen frequently throughout the year and it's never too early to get a year 10 set up to revise in the right way.

Year 10 exams – in summary

Year 10 exams are an important part of the two-year journey towards taking GCSEs at the end of year 11. If students take the opportunity to learn how to revise effectively and reflect on what they've learned from taking their year 10 exams it will stand them in good stead for the demands of year 11.

If you're looking for more help with this, sign them up for the next Revision Kickstarter Workshop or join The Extraordinaries Club.

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