Do Year 7, 8, and 9 Have Exams?

In General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

As students move up through their education journeys, there are doubtlessly countless questions that both students and parents have about the curriculum and academic methods used to develop children. A common word students and parents may have been hearing and perhaps even discussing is exams.

Naturally, there may be some trepidation – it’s a word commonly associated with secondary school, and students can think of it as being far away. An often-asked query by students alike is whether Year 7, 8 and 9 students have exams. With that in mind, what is the answer?

In short, yes – all these years will have some form of exams. Whether it be through end of year assessments, class topic tests, baseline tests or even mock tests – teachers are required to track student progress (especially in exam conditions) among their students. KS3 tests are meant to also examine students’ understanding of various topics, therefore they are a commonly used tool with teachers.

While this may have given you a brief glimpse into whether or not Year 7, 8 and 9 students have exams, it might be helpful to read on to gain a more nuanced understanding.

Do Year 7, 8 and 9 have exams?

Yes these years all have exams – it’s a general rule that schools should measure students’ progress through routine examinations. Of course, these exams won’t be as rigid or important as GCSEs, or even mocks – but they may be daunting for students nonetheless!

There are several types of exams students in these years do. One of these are topic tests (or topic assessments) after a module has been covered. For example, after finishing communicable diseases in Biology, a teacher may decide to do a test to check whether students have grasped the concepts and are able to convey them in exam conditions adequately.

Another type of exam is an end of year assessment – generally, these are a bigger deal than topic tests and cover what the students learnt throughout the year. These may be used to assign sets for the next academic year, but also to highlight any areas of concern for students who may be struggling with certain topics.

A majority of schools will do baseline tests, which are simply tests that make sure students are performing at the level they’re required to. Again, these are commonly used to highlight areas of concern but also make sure students are on track with predicted development of their peers.

According to the UK Government website, found here (national curriculum overview), schools are required to hand in students’ progress to parents or carers – this is so the parents or carers have a part to play in ensuring their child gets the best education possible.

How are KS3 exams graded?

Just like any other exam, grades are assigned to KS3 tests – this may be through simply putting the percentage on them. However, some schools may choose to give students grades to help better prepare them for GCSE grading and how it works.

If you would like to read more information about how KS3 tests are graded overall, check out this helpful article from Think Student!

There is no national standard as to how KS3, pre-GCSE exams are graded – from September 2014, teachers have been given flexibility in how they teach and grade students. Additionally, it gave teachers more flexibility in how they tracked student progress, since of course no two teachers will have the exact same style of teaching.

To read more about the national curriculum change, check out this guide from the UK Government.

What are mock exams?

To put it briefly, mock exams are exams done (typically in Year 10 and 11) that mimic conditions and material found in actual GCSE exams. Mock exams can provide a reflection on how well students might do on their actual exam – of course, while it’s not a perfect model, it can still be used as a general scale of where students are.

Mock exams, like assessments for KS3, can provide valuable areas for teachers to target to ensure their students don’t keep their weaknesses from acting as an obstacle for their academic future.

To read more about what mock exams are, check out this article from Think Student.

How can mock exams and KS3 assessments help prepare students for GCSEs?

Both mock exams and KS3 assessments can help prepare students for GCSEs by identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses across different subjects. Additionally, these exams can allow teachers to help specific students who are struggling – which helps teachers aid them more effectively.

Mock exams are held in exam conditions, with KS3 assessments usually being held in similar conditions (though while mocks are typically held in a designated exam hall, KS3 assessments are usually held in the classroom). This allows students to scope out how it feels to be in exam settings and helps prepare their nerves and worries so it doesn’t seem totally alien!

Both mocks and KS3 assessments require students to recall under pressure and timed conditions. This, of course, prepares students for the sort of fast-paced environment they’ll face during GCSEs. The environment will, therefore, prepare students for the pressure of the exam hall.

Mocks and assessments can provide a general gist for a student’s potential. Once again, while this model isn’t perfect or without flaws, it’s a valuable tool to diagnose where there’s room to nurture and grow academically, and where a student’s strong suit is.

To read more about the importance of mocks, check out this great article from Think Student!

How can you prepare for end of year assessments in Year 7, 8 and 9?

There are many ways to prepare for end of year assessments and other exams in KS3. One useful way to actively recall facts and knowledge is to blurt: a technique where you write down everything you know about a topic without checking your notes. After, you can add in any figures you don’t know – this is a helpful way of seeing where your memory falters with content.

You can check over your weaknesses in past exams to see where you need to dedicate more time to. Additionally, there are countless videos online to help explain concepts – and countless questions to check what you understand!

If you would like to read more about how to motivate yourself, check out this Think Student article, here. If you would like to check out how to make a revision timetable, check out this helpful guide from Think Student!

Are KS3 assessments important?

Yes, it’s the age-old question: are KS3 assessments important? Personally, I always found them tedious (as did my peers) – yet only recently did I see their value.

KS3 assessments are important in terms of the way they allow students to identify areas whether they always make mistakes – as well as their stronger areas. Through KS3 exams, students can experience a brief taste of what a more formal exam may look like.  While still having room to make those mistakes and mess up along the way!

In terms of grades, KS3 assessments aren’t used for GCSE predicted grades or used to send off to various sixth forms and colleges (not like GCSE mocks!). However, they’re valuable for teachers to make progress reports and show where you are academically to parents and carers.

Additionally, KS3 assessments allow teachers to give extra support to students who are struggling with the topic or exam, depending on where they made frequent mistakes. This again provides a valuable foundation for students who will come to expect the same for their actual GCSEs; it’s therefore a valuable experience for KS3 students to have.

KS3 exams are also used in general to work out which set to put students in (Set 1 is typically the highest achievers, whereas lower sets are for those with generally lower test scores). This system of categorising students based on scores can help teachers focus on different areas with students who struggle more, while still challenging higher-achieving students.

You can look at this Think Student article to learn more about forms of assessment are important at KS3.

Are Year 7, 8 and 9 assessments done in strict conditions?

Generally, these assessments will be done in quite similar conditions as ones in mocks – as in, timed and silent. However, some teachers allow students to do open-book assessments. This differs from most GCSE and mock exams where students must rely on their own memory.

Additionally, while mocks are usually done in a designated exam hall, KS3 exams are often done in classrooms as to not introduce too much of a pressure.

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