What Are GCSE Mock Exams?

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As students continue their pathways through secondary school, and enter the stage of GCSE preparation, there may be new, unknown terms being used throughout this period. It’s a confusing time to learn all these terms and their meanings. Therefore, this article will talk about one such term: the GCSE Mock Exams. It’s a phrase frequently used as students enter Year 9 and Year 10, but what does it entail? Read on to find out more.

Several practice examinations are held in the upcoming months before the real GCSE examinations. These practice examinations are known as GCSE mock exams, or “mocks”, as they are a “mock” of actual GCSEs.

While this may have provided you with a brief overview of the nature of GCSE mock exams, more information about GCSE mock exams can be found below.

Are GCSE mock exams important?

GCSE mock exams are opportunities to practice for the real GCSE exams. They are an opportunity to scope out the exam process and to prepare students’ nerves. Students have an opportunity to adjust to a (usually unfamiliar) environment; it can be invaluable.

GCSE mock exams are also a practical way to test out the effectiveness of revision strategies and observe the areas of learning to target specifically. This article at Pass GCSE Science contains more information on GCSE mock takeaways.

Mock exams will also be able to pinpoint how far or ahead students are in their revision. Mocks can therefore provide a clear foundation to build up knowledge from. They roughly show a gist of the mark you could achieve, and the effort put into gaining the grade. If you gained a lower grade than your target grade for a particular subject, it could let you know to target revision tactics more.

Mock exams can locate strengths and weaknesses. The student’s weakest areas can be gone through again with teachers and using resources. Mock exams can also provide motivation to work and achieve better grades, which also provides students with the sense of adrenalin they would feel on exam week for GCSEs. This lets students learn to find ways of motivation and to manage the rush of adrenalin that can come with exams.

A lot of coursework has been removed from the GCSE curriculum from many subjects, which means grades will come off almost entirely from the final examinations. Mock examinations provide a reflection of the general grade which students could achieve in the GCSEs, therefore it’s important to treat the GCSE mock exams as an indication of the final grade. If students take the mock examinations seriously, teachers will be able to help provide support to make sure students can improve their grades by the time the final GCSE exam week comes around.

In conclusion, GCSE mock exams are important and should be treated as such. They can provide a clear foundation for revision tactics and academic growth and give students a general idea of an achievable mark.

Are GCSE mock exam results used for anything?

In short, no! Mock exams are used typically only for predicted grades and to set a foundation for progress in subjects. However, they can be used to replace your grade if an exam cannot be done or is missed. This is in cases of emergencies, such as family, health etc.

Mock exams are not used to get into college or anything major. The only thing to be expected from them typically is just a predicted grade.

In terms of their usefulness, it varies. While predicted grades can set a rough idea for how to help along revision, as well as scope out the environment, mock exams also can stress students out because they view mock exams as extremely important matters.

Mock exams are important in order to gauge where students are in revision progress, but ultimately the results are only predicted ones for GCSEs, so therefore students should not stress out too much about the GCSE mock exams.

This article at Blog Ed Exams provides a comprehensive guide for the usefulness of GCSE mock exams.

Are past papers used as GCSE mock exams?

Usually schools will re-use previous papers in order to write up new mocks for students to take. This regurgitation of questions used by the actual examination boards can provide an area to really internalise what to expect; however, just because the examination board used specific questions, doesn’t mean that they’ll reuse that type of question later on.

Some schools create their own mock papers: teachers write them up. However, most of the time, schools will at least take a few questions from GCSE past papers to create the mock papers, in order to create a semblance of the specific board the school chooses.

Click here to find past papers for AQA GCSE exams and click here for Edexcel GCSE past papers.

Whatever the case, schools will typically send out a revision list for each mock exam, so the past questions can be searched up pertaining to those topics and gone over – this way, you’ll get a feel for both the content and the exam board.

When are GCSE mock exams?

There are typically two GCSE mock exams held before the GCSE exam week: one at the end of Year 10 (May, June, or July), and then the GCSE mock examinations in December of Year 11. 

The GCSE mock exams held in Year 10 are when all of the modules for the GCSE curriculum have not been covered (this is why predicted grades from Year 10 aren’t always accurate as the exams do not hold the extent of the content expected to be learned for GCSE exams). However, they are an excellent opportunity to test out which revision strategies work for students, whilst still not posing a huge, looming boundary to overcome (ultimately the GCSE mock exams are not extremely important).

The Year 11 GCSE mock exams are more important than the Year 10 mocks, as more information is required to be remembered. However, it’s also important to not stress out over the mock exams too much; instead, students should think of the mock exams as opportunities to test out their revision strategies and locate their strengths and weaknesses.

When should you start revising?

Revision time should give students enough preparation to confidently walk into the exams and retain knowledge. The ideal recommendation for the time before the exam to start revising is 2-3 months.

This article from Think Student can be a good guide to figure out when to start revising and how to work out the time management needed.

When are GCSEs?

To help you know when to start revising it’s important to know when the actual GCSE exams are. Generally, GCSE exams begin in May. Check out this Think Student article to find out more.

How do you start revising?

An efficient way to revise is to list the subjects that you take and place them in priority groups. The highly prioritised subjects are the ones that contain the most weaknesses, whereas the least prioritised ones are the subjects’ students are the strongest in.

Passive revision – such as reading and highlighting notes – will only get students so far. Practice questions and quizzes are active revision – the brain is forced to remember and convey knowledge; it’s a great way to learn on the go what needs to be targeted. A good free resource to use is Seneca Learning, found here: it contains quizzes and courses with information in each quiz, and over 6.5 million students use it.

It’s important to figure out which revision is the best for yourself. Some students effectively memorise information when reading through it. Others may find mind maps, or videos useful. Retaining the information through various methods is the first and hardest thing about revision but finding question papers and quizzes is a lot easier.

Motivation is also important to revise – you can’t revise efficiently if your brain just simply does not want to. This article from Think Student contains various methods of motivation.

And finally, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance by allowing your brain to rest. Taking occasional breaks is highly recommended in order to process information best. Good luck in exams!

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