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Poor mock result in a subject that is important for DS

(22 Posts)
Bestseller Tue 04-Dec-18 17:22:14

He's done well overall 4&5 in History and English. 7s for Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science and a distinction for his Engineering BTEC.

2 for Chinese which was always a nonsense for him but he had to take a language. Shockingly, for him, a 3 in Physics.

Physics is his favourite subject and one he hopes(ed) to do at A level.

I could write it off as a bad day and hope he does better in the actual exam but he also got a 3 in Physics in the July mock and I did that then.

I'm struggling to understand how a child who does well in Maths, Engineering and the other science subjects and has a genuine interest in this subject can be performing so badly.

Would it be ok for me to ask the teacher to explain what is going wrong and how we (home and school) can support him to meet what I think is clear potential in this subject, given his strong performances in related subjects?

OP’s posts: |
MaisyPops Tue 04-Dec-18 17:25:00

Assuming he is working well and putting in the effort then I'd put it down to a bad day and talk to him about it first.

Having a bad day in a mock exam is not the same as doing badly in a subject

Bestseller Tue 04-Dec-18 17:25:57

No, but he's done badly in the only two mock exams he's taken in this subject.

OP’s posts: |
mumsiedarlingrevolta Tue 04-Dec-18 17:28:17

I would definitely have a word with the teacher. The whole point of mocks is to point out the sometimes gaping holes in your knowledge and/or exam technique and fix it.
I'm sure the teacher would also like to see the mark go up but without knowing what is going wrong you can't really fix it.
Has your DS seen the paper? has teacher gone over it?
I would def advise getting involved now-you have nothing to lose!!
They do say they expect at least one mark up on the actual exam but I'm not sure that would be enough.
Sometimes exam technique-or "getting the marks" mentality can help a lot.
Good Luck!!

Acopyofacopy Tue 04-Dec-18 17:42:19

Absolutely have a chat with the teacher and ask for specifics. Where exactly is your ds losing marks and why?

Pixi17 Tue 04-Dec-18 17:43:59

I'm a teacher and I would love it if a parent cared enough to ask these questions; not enough do. Definitely ask the teacher about areas for development. It could be topic-based or it could be exam technique. Good luck.

MaisyPops Tue 04-Dec-18 19:39:17

Im not against contactong school, far from it. I'd still personally ask the student first about their mocks at KS4 or KS5.

For example a few of my y11 last year messed up their exam timings so did badly. They knew where they went wrong. I wouldn't be able to offer any additional insight that the student couldn't.

I've had students tell me after mocks that they think they mixed the criteria up between 2 questions, that's the sort of thing that they will know because they've left the exam and realised their mistake.

Whereas I had another student who thought it went really well and then did badly. I would probably be able to offer more insight than the student in that situation.

I agree with mumsiedarlingrevolta on finding out if he has seen the paper yet. That might tell him straight away where the issues are. Equally, if he hasn't had feedback from teachers yet then I wouldn't be contacting teachers either just yet.

By KS4 I tend to advocate the approach of speak to the student first about their performance, how they feel it went, strengths, weaknesses, what their teacher has said to them and gone through in class etc and then follow it up with staff once you've got a better picture.

Penguinsetpandas Tue 04-Dec-18 19:44:44

I would ask him first but definitely ask the teacher as its twice. My DS told me about one test today and he'ld done fairly well but added but I could have gone another 12% if I had noticed there was another question worth 5 marks, I had no idea. 😱

TeenTimesTwo Tue 04-Dec-18 20:17:14

You (he) definitely need to see the paper and see where marks were lost. If they still have the y10 paper at school he should ask for that too.

Is it e.g.
- Lack of knowledge (poor revision)
- Exam technique (not reading question, silly mistakes, running out of time)
- Poor application (dealing with wordy questions)
- Using incorrect equations (memory / selection)

Wheresthebeach Tue 04-Dec-18 20:18:06

Yes get in touch with the school. Two poor mock tests isn't just a bad day, something is amiss.

SelpMeGod Wed 05-Dec-18 07:21:28

Unjaded Jade (study with me type person) YouTube recent video talks about identifying where you went wrong (related to past paper questions) but can help you see where you missed marks, specifically for science.

Her teacher came up with MARCKS
M - maths error
A - Application - have knowledge but struggle to apply it
R - read the question - did you actually answer it? (describe/explain)
C - communication - did you use the correct terms?
K - knowledge
S - statements - 4 mark answer you put 2 statements

Ds1 is also looking to take physics at A level hence the over-investment from me. So go through the paper seeing where he lost marks and see if you can help him identify why. He also needs to speak to his teacher about his disappointment so they can steer him in the right direction re improving his grade.

On a teacher note, we attended parents' evening for Ds2 who is in year 8 and on our way past Ds1's History teacher he said if you get a minute I will talk you through Ds1's mock papers! So of course we did. They had started to go over some of it in class but his teacher knows I have loved helping Ds revise History. I was able to ask specifics about Nazi Germany paper as I have never looked at that time period.

I am grateful to that teacher for understanding that we want our son to do well and that just because we care it doesn't make us weird grin

Unjaded Jade's video for the past paper MARCKS explanation.

Notcontent Wed 05-Dec-18 08:54:27

Is it possible that the teaching is just not very good? Could you look into getting a tutor once you identify what the issue is?

JustRichmal Wed 05-Dec-18 09:02:07

I will show the Jade video to dd. Thank you for posting.

physicskate Wed 05-Dec-18 11:34:38

Start considering alternative a level subjects as well.

It isn't as simple as: good at maths, good at physics. It's like learning a language. I always describe maths as the grammar lessons and physics is the actual conversation lessons. It was always harder to speak the language with fluency than learn the grammar rules...

Additionally, the teacher may not be a physics specialist (only one in 10 science teachers are), but outcomes of pupils aren't actually closely linked with the teacher (very hard to believe that it is more the relationship with the teacher, not the abilities of the teacher, but studies back this up).

oneteen Wed 05-Dec-18 12:48:21

At a good guess I would probably say that exam technique was a major factor. In all the science subjects you need to use the write terminology and he may not be answering the questions (know the answer) but just not answering the question correctly to score the marks. My DD had a few low marks in some of her mocks but her actual exam results were much better by the time the school had spent time on exam techniques.

Maybe have a look at the Tassimao App and Science with Hazel (Video's).

Also maybe now is the time to start doing some past paper questions and let you DS mark the papers himself...(ask for copies of the mock exam papers too).

explodingkitten Wed 05-Dec-18 13:05:29

Being good at related subjects doesn't mean a lot I'm afraid. I was good at maths, physics and biology and absolutely horrible at chemistry. I was actually really interested in chemistry as well but I just didn't get it past the beginners level. Sometimes something just isn't your talent.

Having said that, it might help to use some explaining youtube videos, sometimes you need a different teacher to get the point across. But if that fails then he might just have to give it up.

SelpMeGod Wed 05-Dec-18 15:33:45

Our school recommends freescience lessons on YouTube here

So that would cover the knowledge aspect of it.

Bestseller Wed 05-Dec-18 15:34:23

Id agree for maths and chemistry but there's a huge overlap in the maths, engineering and physics syllabus so you'd expect there to be some correllation

OP’s posts: |
physicskate Wed 05-Dec-18 16:12:09

Ok. Agree to disagree with the physics teacher with 7 years of experience. wink

Notatallobvious Wed 05-Dec-18 16:54:47

In my DS's case it was down to poor teaching. There were questions in the exam that they simply hadn't got the knowledge to cover (this was 4 years ago btw) in the end he found some really good online tutorials on YouTube and taught himself! He got an A* in his final exam.

ShalomJackie Sun 09-Dec-18 20:37:44

If it helps last year DS got a 4 in his Physics mocks and an 8 in the real thing. School had set a hard paper to make them work rather than rest on their laurels. He also said that around Easter it all sort of clicked as they went through revision sessions.

LadyLance Tue 11-Dec-18 19:03:40

If he did well in chemistry/biology, I'm not sure it would be a timing/exam technique type issue. The styles of questions are very similar across all three sciences, so unless the mocks were badly designed, each paper should have had a similar level of demand.

Will he be getting a detailed breakdown of the paper in class, so he can see where he lost marks? He could compare this with his biology and chemistry papers to try to work out what went wrong.

One thing that does apply to physics more than any other subject is the amount of equations he needs to know off by heart (assuming he's sitting higher). Scroll down to page 8 on the link:

That's something you could maybe test him on at home. If he can't remember any, that might be one reason for poor performance in physics.

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