If your child is going to boarding school in the UK you might have heard of 'mock exams' or 'mocks'. If you haven't, you're bound to soon as they're just around the corner. Mocks are a set of practice exams that usually take place in January before the final ones in Spring. They are normally taken by pupils in Year 11 and Year 13 who are studying for their GCSE or A level qualifications. They function as a practice test that allows students to see what grade they can expect in the final exam.
Sitting at home doing test papers is different to doing them in an exam hall under timed conditions. Mock exams allow students to understand how the real exam will feel. They're especially important for international students at UK boarding schools, as the exam may be very different from what they're used to. Students will get an idea of the kind of questions that can be expected on the day. They'll also have a better sense of how much time they have and are likely to feel less nervous on the official exam day.
As well as highlighting a student's strengths, mock exams also allow students to identify the areas that they need to improve on before the final exam. What students do after the mocks is just as important as actually sitting them. There are several months before the final exams, so students should aim to spend this time revising areas where they may have struggled in the mocks. Teachers will also be able to see whether there are areas where many pupils performed poorly and can dedicate more classroom time to revising these areas.
Mock exams are important every year, but during Covid-19, they've become even more vital. When the official final exams were cancelled during the pandemic, grades from the mocks were used. Alongside input from teachers, these results made up a student's final grade. This meant that students who had taken the mocks seriously and studied hard performed well and received good final grades.
With the rapidly changing Covid-19 situation it's difficult to know what the 2022 exam season will entail. Hopefully the final exams will go ahead in Spring, but it is possible that they could be cancelled again. That's why it's more important than ever for students to study and try their hardest for the practice exams. They should treat every assessment as if it is the final one. This way, if the final exams are cancelled, students can be sure that they've done their best in the mocks.
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