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Mock exam "cheating"???

(33 Posts)
Badbadbunny Mon 22-May-17 17:04:49

DS has just finished his end of year 10 "mocks". In virtually all subjects, the exam was either the "sample paper" for the new 9-1 course, or the Summer 2016 paper from the AQA website.

DS revised "properly" for the exams using the text books, revision guides and revising his work done in the past couple of years. He did it the way he'll be doing it for the proper external exams, so good practice for the real thing.

He says that a lot of his classmates had printed off and learned the mark schemes from the AQA "assuming" the exam would be either the sample paper or the 2016 paper so didn't revise anything they didn't expect to be on the paper. It's one thing knowing that there'll be a certain question on a particular topic, but actually having access to the official mark scheme is going too far.

DS is (rightly in my opinion) quite annoyed that they've effectively "cheated" and will no doubt get good results - better than those who didn't "cheat", so it makes the whole process unreliable and unfair.

Surely this can't be the right way of doing it, can it? Don't the schools/teachers realise that the sample/past papers and mark schemes are so freely available on the internet? I can't believe the school just glibly print them off the internet to use. Surely the schools/teachers should at least make their own by randomly taking questions off different past papers or a mix of past and sample papers?

redexpat Mon 22-May-17 17:10:05

Im torn. In priciple I think youre right, but part of me thinks that he worked hard and they worked smart. Will they be able to do the same for the actual exam? If not then he will well setup for the real thing.

PedantHere Mon 22-May-17 17:13:54

Our school uses papers which are not accessible to the public (only accessible to registered exam centres).

NannyOggsKnickers Mon 22-May-17 17:15:19

This is a difficult one. I do wish the papers weren't available online. I've had issues this year with people who have done the only sample paper with their tutors. Writing your own papers is difficult at this point as we don't 100% know what to expect.
To be fair though, I've found that in my subject the kids who have printed off the mark scheme and the papers have fared not better than I thought they would. The mark scheme is just indicative content, not a full answer.

They are also shooting themselves in the foot because the mock are supposed to be formative assessment to help them with the final exam. 'Cheating' now is pointless and stupid.

TheDonald Mon 22-May-17 17:17:17

I've just logged on to ask this exact question.

Dd has her first y10 exam tomorrow. It's literature paper one. She's been told by her friend in set three that their teacher has been only teaching them about two specific themes for a couple of weeks so she's pretty confident they will be doing the specimen paper.

She has of course left it all to the last minute so tonight she's just learning quotes relevant to that paper.

It's a big gamble but it won't work next year. Hopefully she'll start revising more than 48 hours beforehand then.

I'm uncomfortable with it. I agree it's not fair on those who have been revising for weeks but they will be better off long term.

PurpleDaisies Mon 22-May-17 17:20:29

We don't use papers that are available online for this resin but I'd dispute your use of "revising properly". The most effective way of doing well in exams is doing as many past papers as you can and marking them using the official mark scheme. You get to know the style of question and the buzz words they're looking for.

The boys that learned the markscheme will have done artificially well but they still would have had to memorise the content.

TeenAndTween Mon 22-May-17 17:26:25

I think that purposely finding papers that aren't on the official sites (and I'm guessing here that the summer 2016 aren't yet as they are usually held back for a year?) is getting close to 'cheating' but unless they were told not to it isn't.

However pupils that did that and only revised the contents of those papers will have done themselves a disservice in the long run as instead of revising all the content they have only done bits.

So your DC shouldn't mind if he has done less well, because he has prepared better for this time next year.

PurpleDaisies Mon 22-May-17 17:30:19

You're wrong teen, the summer 2016 papers are freely available on the aqa site (chemistry for example here)

PedantHere Mon 22-May-17 17:32:06


AQA doesn't hold back past papers (although I know Edexcel does).

NannyOggsKnickers Mon 22-May-17 18:37:54

It does depend on the subject. However, mock are just a check point. I think they are over sold and there is too much pressure placed on them. They should be just like any other assessment. Students do themselves no favours in the long term by taking short cuts for their mocks. The teachers need an accurate measure of their progress, which is all a mock should be.

TeenAndTween Mon 22-May-17 18:38:07

Oh OK. I think they should hold them back, must make schools' lives hard.
I still think your DS shouldn't worry too much as it is only themselves they are harming by only learning exact answers to questions that won't come up next year!

jr2116 Mon 22-May-17 18:41:31

OCR keep theirs back until the results day the year after, so last year's papers appear this August.

AQA and Edexcel's papers appeared sometime at the start of this month.

Badbadbunny Mon 22-May-17 18:42:49

So your DC shouldn't mind if he has done less well, because he has prepared better for this time next year.

Except that this years' speech day prizes will be awarded according to the end of year exams, like they've been in past years, so those who've "cheated" are more like to get rewarded for it, as opposed to those who havn't. So, yes, it matters.

RedHelenB Tue 23-May-17 08:52:17

Nothing to have stopped him doing the same though.

sheepskinshrug Tue 23-May-17 09:15:51

But the cheats are only cheating themselves and rewards are empty when they are not earned. I would encourage your ds to concentrate on his own won't be as easy to get easy marks in the real thing and that's all he has to think about - working hard for the real thing!

Noodledoodledoo Tue 23-May-17 11:26:01

It is also in my subject of maths fairly easy to spot. Some teenagers are smart but not that bright - ie the ones who answered perfectly the question on a topic my set hadn't been taught - was in the exam for higher groups and I had warned my class there would be some topics we hadn't covered yet.

I have had students who when asked in class can't answer a question but get 90%+ on past papers!

Whilst I understand the frustration about the awards - your son has really done the best thing.

As a tutor I spoke to the school about which papers they were planning to use and have avoided them.

Rockefeller234 Tue 23-May-17 11:33:49

Why didn't he do the same confused?
They didn't cheat, the marking scheme was available to print off, the students used careful logic to guess it might be the same questions and it paid off. They didn't have questions secretly smuggled to them.

Rockefeller234 Tue 23-May-17 11:42:59

Just to add. What they did was a big gamble, because it could have gone completely the other, luckily for them it paid off. Personally I would have done both I.e revise like your DS did but also cast an eye over the marking scheme.

CrazedZombie Tue 23-May-17 16:39:53

It's a marathon not a sprint.
They will get artificially high grades for their mocks but will probably struggle with an unseen paper. In the end, memorizing a previous year's exam will only get you so far and hopefully your don's hard work will pay off when he does the real thing.

TheDonald Tue 23-May-17 18:11:22

Well dd took the gamble and it paid off. She sat the specimen paper today with the exact questions she was expecting.

I think it's probably done her confidence a load of good. She will probably still only get a 4 or 5 but English is her weakest subject and she needed to practice structuring an answer. Given that they've only covered 2 acts of romeo and juliet I think she'd have floundered if she'd tried to revise everything.

I won't be encouraging her to find past papers for any of her other subjects though.

mumsneedwine Wed 24-May-17 12:04:42

I would tell him the only person they are cheating is themselves. He knows what he really would get in an exam - they don't, yes it's falling if they gloat about their high marks but next year guess who gets the last laugh.

OddBoots Wed 24-May-17 12:15:04

"DS revised "properly" for the exams using the text books, revision guides and revising his work done in the past couple of years. He did it the way he'll be doing it for the proper external exams, so good practice for the real thing."

If he was doing it as if he were preparing for the real thing he would be looking at past papers too, that would be part of the revision process for exams generally, wouldn't it? It certainly is for me with the OU (even though we have to buy past papers in order to do so).

Hulababy Wed 24-May-17 12:20:10

Dd is doing end of y10 exams at the moment and, in addition to general revision and work books etc, we did print of sample papers - no real past papers as all new. We used the mark schemes to check answers and work out where she'd gone wrong on some questions. I don't see thy as cheating though. Doing past papers has always been a known and legitimate way of revising.

I know it's hard for schools to set their own exams at the moment as it's the first year, but they can't blame school kids for using perfectly legitimate revision aids.

TeenAndTween Wed 24-May-17 13:40:54

I think there is quite a bit of a difference between using various past papers as practice, and twigging that the mock will be on a particular past paper and doing all the revision based on that specific paper.

The latter isn't cheating but I don't think it helps the DC in the long run.

Badbadbunny Wed 24-May-17 14:52:30

I think there is quite a bit of a difference between using various past papers as practice, and twigging that the mock will be on a particular past paper and doing all the revision based on that specific paper.

Exactly. DS said that some of his class mates had print outs of the mark scheme and were looking at them in the form room before the test to try to memorise the answers.

We did look at a range of past and sample papers as part of his revision, but we didn't dwell on any particular one - just randomly picked questions from a variety.

I think it's quite lazy of the school to just use the latest papers straight off the internet. At the very least I'd have thought they'd make their own test based on random questions from past papers, sample papers and maybe a few of their own thrown in - that's how they've done end of topic tests and previous end of year tests.

Anyway, I've now emailed the school to express my concerns and thoughts. My son, yesterday, told one particular teacher that he thought it was unfair and that others had the mark schemes with them and he told me she didn't even realise the mark scheme was on the internet!!! Perhaps the teachers don't realise how readily available they are???

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