In this series, I’m looking at the ways get the most from mock exams, with practical steps to help you dial back the stress.
- Know your goals.
- Create a revision timetable
- 10 revision tips
- A good revision space
- What to do during mocks
- Review, reflect, repeat (this post)
In this goal-setting post, I talked a bit about making sure you knew what you wanted to achieve. Now, when the mocks are done and you’ve had a week or two (hopefully!) you’ll be getting the results and finding out how well your strategies worked.
You should go over papers and strategies in lessons, but you do also need to do your own reflection – it is your paper and your exam after all.
First, get out your goal sheet when you get your paper back. Look at the mark/grade and compare with your personal target.
- How did you do compared with your target?
- How many more marks do you need? (It’s always a good idea to add a few because they change every year. and you want to be solidly in the grade)
- Which questions did you perform well on?
- Which questions need work?
- Where is there space for the biggest improvement? In English Language, for example, it’s often Q.4 or 5, out of 20 or 40.
- If you’re on target, can you improve your goal – or are you best maintaining that and focusing somewhere you’re not yet there?
Second, check against your post-exam review.
- Does your review match your results?
- Were there timing issues that explain some drops in marks, or do you need to work on techniques or knowledge?
Third, redraft some answers.
Particularly in essay-based subjects or where there are longer answers, go back and redo it. Use the same paper, and improve your response. Ask your friend or teacher to check it and work with you. Find out who did better and ask to have a look at theirs.
Fourth, help others.
Generosity and kindness is so, so important, and it costs you nothing to let others see your paper or have a photocopy if they ask for it. It’s not about bragging (“Look how well I did, do you want it?”) but quietly letting them know that you don’t mind them having a look if they’d find it helpful to see the structure of your answer. Plus remember that technique explaining it to others? Here’s a great opportunity.
Fifth, review your revision
Be honest with yourself: did you revise enough, and use strategies that worked?
Sixth, get advice.
If you’re a few marks off, it’s nothing to worry about. Remember to look at the marks, not just the grades – English Language, for example, has narrow boundaries – they’re sometimes just 10 marks apart. Over two papers with five questions each!! You do need to work to improve, but it’s not a disaster even if you’re two grades off in a mock.
If you’re several grades under, though, then you need to up your game. Ask your teacher for advice – it’s what they’re there for.
For timing issues – do another paper. I know this sounds like a pain but it IS part of your revision, and it’s the only way to sort out timing issues. If you experimented and it didn’t work, try it the other way or find out what someone else did and give that a go.
If it’s question structure, then write yourself a plan to stick to. For my students in English Lit, it would be intro (writer’s purpose, narrative focus)/ three paragraphs with topic sentences (technical language driven) / conclusion (writer’s message). Or think about coming up with a starting sentence structure for your big essays.
If it’s knowledge, think about your revision strategies – and try something new.
Remember, the whole point of mocks is to work out what works and what isn’t working for you. If it is – brilliant. If it isn’t, then you need to change your approach or you’ll more than likely get the same result in the summer.