Whilst some of us may be starting to think of the Christmas festivities ahead, or a winter break abroad, many students will be approaching, or will have taken, their mock GCSE exams. Although just practice, these tests can prove to be a stressful time for all involved, as they indicate whether a student is on track to achieve their goals in the summer exams. With this in mind, I thought it useful to explore how best to approach and deal with these pesky mocks.
For many students, mocks come laden with foreboding. They herald an end to the somewhat carefree previous years of schooling, and mark the start of years of oncoming exams. As a consequence, stress can abound in the weeks approaching these exams, but it need not. While it is of course important to take these tests seriously, it is also useful to see them as a learning experience, rather than the be-all and end-all of their school careers. In the weeks before the mocks, consistent work in class, and some extra effort at home will aid results, whilst avoiding excessive stress and overwork. Approach the mocks as you would any other exams: study hard, but take regular breaks, and focus revision on areas you know need improving.
Once the mocks roll around, try and remain as calm as possible. These are not the real GCSEs, so a mark you were not hoping for now is not disastrous – you still have time to work on your weaknesses and obtain the grade you want in the summer. When you receive your results, take time to go through where you went wrong with individual subject teachers, and work with them to formulate a plan going forward. Perhaps you need to focus on algebraic equations in Maths, or the past tenses in Spanish – whatever it is, your teacher is there to help you achieve your best grades.
As for parents, the best thing you can do is to make sure your child is studying when they should be, and also taking breaks when they should too. The October half term often falls around the time of the mock exams, and it is important they have time to get out and see their friends; they’ll return fresher and more ready to study! In addition, try not to panic if your child does not receive the grades you hoped they would in the mocks. They will more than likely be feeling even more upset than you, and they will need support and encouragement in order to move on and improve in the summer exams. If you have any burning questions or worries, do make an appointment with the appropriate teacher to discuss the best plan for your child moving forward.
In conclusion, rather than being seen as a big, scary set of tests, the mocks should be used as useful benchmarks for a child’s progress approaching the GCSEs in the summer. Steady and consistent work in class, as well as some daily revision at home, will help a student perform their best in the tests, as will support and encouragement from parents. No matter what grade is achieved in the mocks, good or bad, use them as guidelines around which you can plan your work and revision going forward. Work together with subject teachers to formulate said plan, and remember the P’s: proper planning prevents poor performance!