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GCSE Mocks Next Week

(23 Posts)
mummybearlondon Wed 08-Nov-17 19:08:59

Last week, my DS was given his mock exam timetable which starts next week.
On Monday he has three mocks. The first is 1hr30m, the second is 1hr45m and the last one 45m. Day two he has two exams. Day three two exams. Day four one and day five one.
Week B on Monday one exam, day two two exams, day three two exams.
He was really stressed and to be honest when I saw it, I found it overwhelming. His already been worrying about GCSE’s.
Do you think it’s a bit too much to have three mocks in one day? Or is it a good thing?
He is also struggling with revising.
Also is it worth doing past exam papers to help with mocks?
Thanks.

DomesticAnarchist Wed 08-Nov-17 19:18:12

That sounds like an accurate representation of the actual GCSE timetable.

I expect his stress is more due to a lack of revision.

A mixture of revising content (mindmapping etc) and practicing exam questions is a good place to start.

He needs to come up with a long term strategy now to make sure he feels more organised for the next set of mocks (usually a set in the spring too)

Fffion Wed 08-Nov-17 19:32:37

It's not reflective of actual GCSEs when you have one or two exams a day over 3 - 4 weeks with quite a few days off plus a week of half-term.

However, it's not practical to replicate the exams to this extent. 6 or 7 days is reasonable.

What strikes me as odd here is that the exams are so early. Much better to have them in January, when there is time to revise properly, and more of the course will be covered.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 08-Nov-17 20:06:24

Many areas have 6th Form Colleges that you apply for in January so lots of schools do mocks now to be able predict the grades more accurately for 6th Form

Malbecfan Thu 09-Nov-17 10:47:17

Sorry Fffion but I disagree. Last year DD had 2 A level papers on the same day at the same time on 3 separate days. She always took the longer paper first but on one day sat a 2.5 hour paper, followed by a break of either 30 or 45 minutes in isolation then a 2 hour paper.

Our school has 3 mock GCSE exams on most days. As others have said, it's the only way to get through them without them going on for weeks. As long as they plan their revision carefully, they manage it.

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 09-Nov-17 12:56:35

Malbecfan is correct.

I am an invigilator and often have to supervise people where exams clash and they cannot be left alone between taking the first exam and the one that clashed so they cannot get any access to what is on the paper.

I am intrigued as to what they will do for my son as he has 3 scheduled for the same afternoon. (One with CIE, one with OCR and one with Edexcel) - the joys of teaching different boards for different exams.

The exams are all heavily subscribed subjects too (not subjects like Mandarin or Greek or Japanese where there may be a couple of kids only taking the subects) But a science, Geography and English so it is going to be interesting to see what they do given the number of pupils to accommodate.

Fffion Thu 09-Nov-17 20:49:54

Sorry, but three mocks a day over the course of a week is not anything like the real thing unless I've been transported to a parallel universe.

This is not a suggestion to drag the mocks out. That would be silly.

LIZS Thu 09-Nov-17 20:51:26

There may well be 3 papers on a day during the actual gcses. Back to back if there are clashes.

Fffion Thu 09-Nov-17 20:53:55

There might be, but not every day. Maybe once in an exam series if you have an unusual GCSE. Twice would be particularly unlucky. Best then you would have big gaps between other exams.

BackforGood Sun 12-Nov-17 23:44:32

Fffion is right in that it would be unlikely there will be sustained day after day after day of 3x exams, however there is the potential for there to be some days that run like this and it's better for the dc to be prepared for the intense days, and then relieved it isn't quite so bad in the Summer. Plus, of course from the schools' pov, the rest of life at school also has to be fitted in - these mocks are only for Yr11, the other pupils still need to be considered, and, having halls / gyms out of action for weeks on end isn't really fair on the rest of the community.

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 08:57:23

The real GCSEs require taking more exam papers than a few years ago because the coursework element of so many subjects has been reduced or eliminated.

English for example is 4 exams and maths is 3 for most exam boards.
Most children take 9-11 subjects and the exams are held over a 5 week(ish) period (not including the half term) so, with around 30 papers to sit, there will almost certainly be days with 2 or 3 exams will (and many days with none or just 1).

So it is good practice to take more than one exam a day. And of course, a school cannot run mocks too many weeks else there's be no time for the teaching.

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 09:00:33

With regard to revision, answering questions on things he has covered is good practice. It doesn't have to be a whole past paper each time. For example, if he's revised cells in biology, he can answer 3 questions on cells from a past paper or from a revision work book and, if he gets them right, move on to revising the next topic.

There has to be an element of going over notes and revision notes but actively testing himself (or getting someone to test him from his book) definitely helps.

karriecreamer Mon 13-Nov-17 09:22:07

Surely they've done "end of year tests" in earlier years? My son has had a crammed week of end of year tests every year, with typically 3/4 tests per day (each 1-2 hours), to get them all done within a week so as not to take up too much normal teaching time. I thought it was pretty normal. He's just got his mock timetable and it's all crammed in, but he thought nothing about it.

charlmum60 Mon 13-Nov-17 09:35:38

I've recently corresponded with my DD's school about her mock timetable (Jan), she had 3 exams in one day - two science and history which given her hyper-mobility was a nightmare (she wont have three exams on one day in May/June - already have seen timetable). Schools have to be efficient with mock timetables but I also think there needs to be some balance if possible.

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 10:43:37

But the real exams will crammed in too.
And there wont be the option to have a word with the school to get them to change it (not unless the combined total of exams goes over a fixed upper limit of around 5 hours of exams in total for one day).

DS is in Year 12. Some of the timetable clashes for the (real) GCSEs this summer included an English paper that was over 2 hours long on the same day as Geography paper that was 1.5hours long.

Papers 2&3 of Chemistry, Physics and Biology were sat back to back with no gap (so 2 hours of exams) and were often followed by another exam in the afternoon that was up to 1hr 45 minutes.

Not only was it physically demanding but it meant little time to revise between each exam. Students therefore had to be very organised and revise weeks in advance knowing that, if they had 7 or 8 exams in some weeks, there would be no time to study in between them.

If a student has a physical condition that means they really cannot complete so many written papers in one day, it is great for the mocks to flag this becasue they may need to start using a laptop to type their answers. This needs to be recognised long in advance of the real things so that is is considered a normal way of working.

It is no good have easily mocks spaced out comfortably only to face 4 hours of exams all in one day during the real thing.

charlmum60 Mon 13-Nov-17 11:21:06

Tiggytape - My daughter takes rest breaks - we had considered typing for History but she feels that in order to have done this properly she should have been typing from the beginning of Yr 10 but she was only diagnosed towards the end of Yr 10 and it was only the Yr end exam last year that flagged up a real problem with History ...we were going to try typing but it just didnt materialise with the school at the end of last year. (she writes too slowly - Hypermobility so we are addressing in other ways).

I flagged up in my post that she WILL NOT have three exams in one day in the main exams in May June - I have her timetable already and in terms of the mocks the three on one day were - 1 x 2.5hr, 1 x 1hr and 1 x 1.5 hours so yes bang on 5 hours - but my real issue was that History was one of those exams, which is a subject we are currently working with too try and speed her up/cut out fluffiness. The mock is really important to see whether we have managed to address the slow writing. If she was going into this exam having done 3.5 hours already it would demoralise her because her hands/fingers would be tired before she started. We know one of the May/June History exams falls on the same day has English Language which isnt great but at least by having two exams in the mocks that are similar we can try and adjust how she handles the questions if there is still an issue.... its not such an issue with revision its factoring in tired hands.

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 11:29:46

Sorry charl - I missed where you said you'd already had the timetable for the summer already.
I know in my DS's year the weeks with a heavy load of exams did pose a problem for some students with anything from hayfever or a one off illnesses to longer term conditions that make concentrating and writing for prolonged periods difficult. That's why I said about using the mocks to get on top of these issues if you can and to welcome the fact that for (others) it will be representative of the worst case scenario of crammed days in the real thing.

The mocks are also a good chance to iron out any problems in using extra time or taking rest breaks etc. For example, will your DD be seated separately in the real thing and, if not, is she comfortable raising her hand to stop and start rest breaks as often as she needs to? Is she able to time her rest breaks so she doesn't lose her train of thought but still keep the pain manageable? Would pain killers before the final exam of the day be a good idea or make her drowsy etc. all of those things are a good thing to think about and practice now so it is good that the school are mimicking her actual timetable to make that possible.

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 11:39:04

(not all of that may be relevant but I know in the case of RA, the school helped a student give consideration to using their breaks efficiently and to keeping up with pain meds before the exams. They were also granted extra time for their longer written exams but that was before the latest regulation changes).

charlmum60 Mon 13-Nov-17 11:42:15

Tiggytape - we are fortunate that she has already sat one set of Mocks in May/June last year hence she's been through the process...they do seat the children with SN at the front ...These exams are what really highlighted the History problem - the rest breaks didnt seem to help with History because it was more a case of writing quickly which she cant do- so we have to work at cutting fluffiness out. There were a few teething problems with teachers getting mixed up which children had rest breaks and which children had extra time etc and one teacher was too slow in reacting to the hands up request...hopefully it will be slicker in January. She was having issues with pains in legs during last years Mocks but these seem to be getting better so we will see how things go ..

I feel quite responsible in some ways because her pencil grip has been poor since reception and it wasn't until she had other Hypermobility problems and she flagged up that problems keeping up with copying questions that we realised what the issue was ...we could have probably done more had we got a much earlier diagnosis. She's done really well considering...

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 12:00:18

It sounds like you've got it all covered.
Many people with a variety of medical, and other additional needs, affecting exam performance are able to cope well enough for it to go undetected until A Level or even university. Having been diagnosed at this stage though will ensure your DD can continue to get support for her condition.
I hope the mocks go well for her.

Something that can help cut fluffiness from a history or English exam is a spider diagram plan doodled quickly at the start (no more than a couple of minutes spent on it). It boils down to jotting down a few headings with the main two or three points under each one eg: Intro, Arguments For, Arguments Against, Other factors that impacted on the event/s and should be mentioned and conclusion.
If her hands hurt and she stops quickly, she might lose her train of thought or start to waffle a bit when she returns to the paper. A plan to refer back to can help keep things to the point and stop important points being missed out.

Another thing that might help (again may not be relevant with hypermobility but may be worth trying) is to have a variety of pens with different pen grips. All black ink of course but some triangular grips, some chunky ones, some with a rubberised grip that's softer to hold etc so she can chop and change throughout the exam if her hand gets sore with one.

And finger exercises (again if applicable to hypermobility and if not against what she's been advised) might be something to look up or to trial in the mocks to see if they help in the rest breaks.

charlmum60 Mon 13-Nov-17 12:40:56

Great advice Tiggytape thank you...jotting down a few headings might help ...she is currently working through 5 years of past papers (provided by the school) ...she did one last night and took about 1.5 hours ...so we shall see how it is marked. School have also spent sometime teaching them to note differences in questions - stating that a big downfall is not reading or answering the question correctly (questions are similar but require different answers( - which will probably be the danger with DD because she is under time pressure....

Looking back I think I would have liked the school to have given DD handouts in classes rather than her having to try and copy questions lots of text of a board - I dont think she could be taking in what she was writing because she was probably too worried on not finishing it off. In maths she has missed every other question (similar questions) which has worked out well.

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 12:51:58

I'm glad they are being supportive and past papers are an excellent way to revise at this stage both in terms of technique and timing but also course content.

With regard to note taking, does DD's school allow phones?
Sometimes children are allowed to photograph the board and finish copying the notes down later or at home so that they don't get further behind in the class trying to copy down things that take a lot of time.

Again, it might be something to consider for some lessons where there's a lot of note taking - especially if there are lessons where DD misses some notes altogether due to time pressures (or misses the explanation of the notes because the others are listening but she's still copying down).

charlmum60 Mon 13-Nov-17 14:04:47

That's another great idea - they use Ipads throughout the school (they all have their own - so no problem is taking a photo with the Ipad)

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