Mock­ing, or rock­ing, the mocks?

Do mock ex­ams mat­ter? ROWAN MAN­TELL asks what pupils and teach­ers make of them

EDP Norfolk - - Education -

IT’S MOCK exam sea­son, when pupils will be re­vis­it­ing notes, re­vis­ing facts, hon­ing tech­niques and, hope­fully, ac­ing ex­ams.

Or not, as not ev­ery­one treats mock ex­ams with to­tal re­spect.

“They’re mocks, mum, the clue is in the name,” my youngest son an­nounced last year when ques­tioned about his re­laxed de­meanour, and cal­en­dar packed with sport­ing and so­cial com­mit­ments, in the run-up to his mock A lev­els.

A gen­er­a­tion be­fore I had been con­sid­er­ably more dili­gent and was re­warded with top marks in ev­ery exam. Un­for­tu­nately, I then re­warded my­self the rest of the spring off to bask in my bril­liance and at­tend 18th birth­day par­ties. By the time the ac­tual ex­ams ar­rived I knew a lot about the ef­fects of mix­ing Mal­ibu, Baby­cham and the mu­sic of Soft Cell, not as much as pre­vi­ously about meta­phys­i­cal po­etry and glacial land­scapes.

My boy, the mocker of mocks, pro­gressed from solid to spec­tac­u­lar, quite pos­si­bly us­ing the prac­tice ex­ams to iden­tify what he didn’t know and go­ing then to on to put that right be­fore the main event.

Teach­ers tend to stress the im­por­tance of ev­ery test but an ac­tual GCSE is ob­vi­ously much more im­por­tant than a spell­ing test, or end-of-unit quiz. So where do mocks fit in, and when and how, should pupils pre­pare for them? I asked an ex­pert.

Stephen Crump is head­teacher at Hether­sett Old Hall School and said pupils sit mock ex­ams this month for both GCSE and A lev­els.

“We don’t want to put too much of a damper on the girls’ fes­tive sea­son, but we do em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of con­sol­i­dat­ing their learn­ing dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days. Re­vi­sion is key and we give the girls plenty of prac­ti­cal tips and sug­ges­tions for how to re­vise most ef­fec­tively. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant now that all ex­ams test pupils on two years’ work at the end of the course,” he said.

“Mocks pro­vide a ‘dry run’ for the real thing so are def­i­nitely worth tak­ing se­ri­ously. At Hether­sett Old Hall School we use the out­comes to help ‘fine tune’ the re­main­der of the course - for ex­am­ple, giv­ing in­ten­sive help in any ar­eas found to be weak for any in­di­vid­ual.

“We re­mind girls that mock re­sults are di­ag­nos­tic – there is still time to fill holes in knowl­edge, fine-tune exam tech­nique and time man­age­ment or make sure those nerves can be brought un­der con­trol.”

And he said teach­ers value mocks too. “Our teach­ers wel­come mocks as a test of how pupils will ap­ply their knowl­edge un­der strict exam con­di­tions and – es­pe­cially – with time re­straints. Mocks cer­tainly show up which pupils are on top of their game and of­fer the op­por­tu­nity of a lit­tle timely ad­vice for those who are not quite as well pre­pared!”

Above: Stephen Crump, head­mas­ter of Hether­sett Old Hall School, in an A level re­vi­sion tu­to­rial with last year’s head girl Anna Reed

Be­low:

Hether­sett Old Hall School pupil Ria study­ing for GCSEs

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