This post is for Year 11 parents/carers and students, but I have published it more widely because the information may be of interest to other year groups.
Year 11 mock examinations are approaching - they begin on 2nd December (which is 5 weeks on Monday!). It is worth making the following points...
Mock examinations are challenging: That is partly because the subjects have not yet completed all the teaching for the GCSE and have not yet had time to do much revision in lessons. Teachers will have been referring back to past topics and identifying areas for revision, but the focus is still on new content, not on revision at this stage. All the examinations are very close together - they are packed into a week or so whereas the real exams spread out over roughly a month. They are usually full recent past papers to give students a realistic sense of what the real GCSEs are going to be like and so they will have areas of content which students will find it hard to fully complete.
Mock examinations are valuable: Lots of research says that tackling examination questions is a very good way to revise and mock examinations give students a realistic idea of what they are facing next summer. They give a good indicator of areas to work on over the coming months and often prompt students to work harder!
Mocks give some guidance for college applications: Mock examination grades have to be treated carefully as predictors of final grades because every single student can improve by a significant number of grades from their mocks. They do however give some guidance when students attend their college interviews.
Mocks do not lead to "dropping" subjects: Students do not drop subjects based on mock examinations, or anything else. They are coming to the end of their GCSE education and they will complete the courses that they started. They had some choice over the subjects they took going into Year 10 and these are the courses that they will complete. Teachers will decide "tiers of entry" based on the highest expectation of their students. If mock exam results are not what individual students expected then this is a prompt to seek support from us and/or work harder.
Mocks do not lead to saying "I only need a 4": Sometimes, particularly as their route to college becomes clearer, students downplay their abilities and settle for less than their best. Everyone needs to work for the highest grades because you never know how the exams will go on the day and also because you never know when you will need your GCSE grades - they stay with you for ever! Everyone aspires to the very highest grades.
I would wish Year 11 good luck, but it isn't luck that matters - it is focused hard work. We know that those students who attend school and work hard do well - we call it a positive attitude to learning. The grade 7s, 8s and 9s across all subjects last year showed that there is no barrier to achieving the highest grades. It isn't "rocket science" - hard work pays off! Brilliant teaching, exceptional support and committed hard work are the three elements of a great education.
Please get in touch if you have any questions or queries.