Some go all out, others select specific topics and pray they come up, either way we’re often left wondering “what happened” when the mock results come in. These assessments have always brought angst and apprehension as students feel the pressure mounting towards their finale in the summer. Schools use these exams in a number of different ways, but what’s most important are the lessons you can learn (although many still find themselves in denial). So how can you move forwards from here?
Firstly, don’t just say “I just need to work harder” and throw your paper in the recycling. Start at the beginning and work through each question, noting the topic and style. Look at where you gained marks and when they were lost, try to look for a pattern. Was you recall strong or did you not remember or even understand key terminology or ideas? Absorbing facts can be tacked at home, but if you genuinely didn’t understand a concept that’s one to highlight and ask for help.
We all make annoying mistakes, but add up the number you made in each paper. Were you rushing, did you misread or overlook a word, diagram or even whole question? This is sometimes the difference between grades, so however painful worth addressing. Think about how these errors can be reduced in the future. If timing is an issue, practice how you tackle the paper, splitting it up into sections or having the discipline to move on and not procrastinate. It can be helpful to leave enough time to revisit questions, but equally there is no benefit to rushing through when a steady pace could benefit overall. Keeping an eye on the mark allocation can also be a handy hint and stop some of those frustrating mistakes, keep an eye on the words in bold too – they’re there for a reason!
If you have more than one paper in a subject it’s interesting to identify your strongest areas, is it the content or your approach that means you do better in some elements and not others. Practice of exam specific questions is often the key and you can ask for more of these from your school. If you struggle with multiple choice or derivations then make sure you tackle them head on rather than pretend they’re not there.
Used in the right way whatever your mock result there will be points to take away and improve upon. Whether to reach or excel your predicted grade, use the information you’ve gained from this process constrictively and in a targeted manner and the next time you sit a paper be it another mock or the real deal you will see a positive change.