A-Level exams are the culmination of many years of school education. While this can make them feel exciting for many students, a chance to prove their knowledge and move on to the next step, they can also be very stressful. While A-Levels work mostly in the same way as GCSEs, the exams and the process leading up to them can still be stressful, as there are some key differences. One of these can be the number and type of mocks that you take. Many students find this process stressful, and having been through it myself I understand how anxiety inducing mocks can be. However, in this article we will explain the process of mock exams for A-Levels, how they work and what benefits they have, as well as how to get the best out of your mock exams.
Mock exams for A-Levels happen in almost every sixth form college. You will usually have a few for each subject, and they are based on the content you have learned. Most sixth form colleges hold these in the summer of Year 12, and then again around Christmas of Year 13.
While this should have given you a brief overview of mock exams at A-Level, please read on for a full explanation of the process and what to expect, as well as tips for getting through your mocks.
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When are A-Level mocks?
Each school and college sets mock exams differently, and they do not have to hold them (although almost every school chooses to). Therefore, it is very difficult to say exactly when A-Level mocks will be in each specific school. However, there are a few general patterns of when mock exams tend to be held.
Firstly, you typically have at least one mock in Year 12, and then one in Year 13. Some sixth forms have 2 in each year. This all depends on what school you go to, and also depends on what subjects you take, as some subjects may hold more mocks than others. For example, science subjects often hold a small, in class mini exam after each topic.
Mocks are most often held around Christmas, or in the summer. Many schools hold mocks after Christmas in both Year 12 and 13, as well as one in the summer of Year 12. However, it is best to check with your teachers about when exactly your mocks will be.
Revision for mocks can be time consuming and difficult, but Think Student has some excellent tips and strategies of the best techniques, and these can be found here.
Are A-Level mock exams important?
A-Level mocks are definitely important. They prepare you for your actual exams and give you the chance to practise revising. Most importantly, for many students, they help decide your predicted grade for university. To read more about how important A-Level mocks are, check out this Think Student article.
However, ultimately mocks are not the final product of your exams, and you are definitely not expected to do as well as you will in your real exams. They are a practice, and while the grades you get are important, the feedback from your teachers about what went well and what to work on is the most valuable part.
Another important reason for A-Level mocks is that they give you experience of the real exam conditions. If you have or need access arrangements you can trial these, as well as getting a feel for how the timings of the actual exam will work. These factors will all help you when you come to do the real exam, so that you already know what to expect.
Many students worry about what will happen if they miss their mock exams, and more information on this can be found here, from Think Student.
How hard are A-Level mocks?
There is no getting around it: A-Level mocks are difficult. They are much harder than GCSEs, and many students find this exceedingly difficult at first.
However, the whole point of mocks is to replicate a real exam process, and real exams are hard. Mocks are only as difficult as a real exam and practising that is great to prepare you for the real thing.
Also, teachers will only set mocks on content you have already learned, as they are testing your knowledge and revision, not trying to trick you. Therefore, if you find a mock exam difficult, it can help you understand what you need to work on. This means that finding mocks hard is very normal and is not a reason to panic.
Remember, mocks are not the real exams, so if you struggle, you have plenty of time to improve and find out why it was difficult!
For tips on the best ways to revise for your mock exams, please read more here from Think Student.
Do A-Level mocks do a good job at preparing you for the real exam?
From my experience, A-Level mocks have been the best preparation possible for real exams. I had a chance to practise my exam technique, learn time management, test my knowledge, and also see how the access arrangements I need would work.
Mocks have also made me, and many other students, feel a lot less stressed about actual A-Level exams. Once you know how the exam process works it becomes a routine, and you only have to worry about learning content, rather than knowing what to do.
Furthermore, research shows that students who take practice tests do better on their final exams than those who just revise (the study can be found here, from the Guardian). They also help you manage exam nerves when the real exams come, giving you time to practise calming techniques and plan your time.