How Important Are GCSE Mock Exams, Really?
Now that you’ve started the second half term of the academic year, you might have started thinking about your upcoming GCSE mock exams. Mocks give you a good idea of what to expect when you take the real thing in the summer, and will ultimately serve as predictions for your final results. Important, right?
Well, we think so. But lots of students, perhaps yourself included, often struggle to view their mock exams with much weight at all.
We totally don’t blame you, but often when tasked with mocks students think about the prospect of studying over the Christmas holidays, the fact that they don’t count, and whether they can get away with cramming their revision the night before. After all, they’re mocks; the grades don’t count towards your overall mark, so why so serious? And who wants to revise over Christmas?
Well, we’re here to tell you that we get why you might feel apathetic, but that GCSE mock exams are actually an extremely important revision tool which will pay dividends when it comes to sitting the real things. GCSE Maths past papers will give you tons of authentic questions prep, writing up GSCE Biology notes will get you memorising key terminology, and mocks will ready you for the big day itself like nothing else.
So, before you push your mock exams to the back of your mind, have a read of the below and prepare to give your mocks your best shot.
Practice makes perfect
Not only do mock exams provide you with the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your revision techniques, you’ll also gain experience writing formal exam answers under timed conditions. Sitting an exam is rarely an enjoyable experience, but going in there feeling confident about your ability to answer the questions is a great way to ease the stress.
Use your mocks to craft concise answers, and then get further used to the timed conditions and pressured environments of a GCSE exam with the mocks. It may be a practice run, but treating them as seriously as the real thing will help you familiarise yourself with this often intimidating environment, so you’re not fazed in the summer.
Realise the best revision strategies
There are plenty of different revision strategies out there to choose from. Some people respond best to colourful mind maps and cue cards, whereas others like pages of handwritten notes or interactive revision apps. Ultimately it’s all down to personal choice, and finding out what works best for you.
And the best way to determine what works best for you? Trying various revision techniques and seeing what you find most engaging. If you revise properly for your mock exams, you’ll be able to put various revision methods into action and hone your revision process, so that you know exactly how to proceed when the real deal comes round.
Since your results don’t count towards your overall grade, this is the perfect revision technique testing ground. Taking your mocks seriously means that by next summer, you’ll be able to get straight to it and revise like a pro!
Spot areas for improvement
GCSE mock exams are a great way of spotting which areas need more attention going forward. Utilise resources like our Physics or Maths past papers to create exam-like conditions so you're well prepared when mocks come around. This way, you’ll be able to zone in on any areas of weakness well before the summer exams. While your results will never serve as an exact prediction of what you’re going to get next year, they can serve as excellent indicators, so take them seriously in order to get a true sense of which topics you struggle with, and work out how to best focus your revision in future.
Making the most of the feedback from your mocks is essential, and is a key reason why they’re so important. Therefore, if you’re struggling to make sense of your teacher’s comments, ask to meet them to talk through their marking so you can properly understand your mistakes. Talking to your teachers can sometimes feel daunting, but trust us, they want to help you as much as you want help. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for support if needed.
Predicted grades are actually important
Even though we’ve mentioned that your mock results don’t count towards your final grades, they do serve as your predicted grades, which are particularly important if you’re in years 11 or 12.
Your predicted grades are seen as reliable indicators of what you might achieve during your actual exams, so when you’re deciding on university courses or A-Level options, your teachers and tutors will judge your suitability for these courses on the basis of your predicted results.
If you don’t take your mock exams seriously and your teachers aren’t confident you can achieve the required grades for your course of choice, you may find that your options are limited or your favourite uni is out of reach.
Treating your mocks like the real thing means you’ll give yourself more options when it comes to university and sixth form applications - and who doesn’t want the freedom of choice?
Overall then, it goes without saying that mock exams are an extremely useful and important part of your school year, and should be treated as such. If you work hard you’ll be rewarded, either by a fine-tuned revision routine or a huge pool of potential universities which you’re eligible to apply for.
Mocks might not ‘count’ towards your official grades, but they count for a lot of other things that are just as valuable. So make yourself a timetable, get organised before Christmas, and lay the groundwork now to make your life easier in future. It will pay off. Best of luck everyone!
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