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Revision & Mocks: Advice for Parents by Lizzie Mitchell, University Lecturer & Tutor

January will have been a busy time for those sitting mocks in preparation for the summer.  Some will have been reassured when they received their results, while others may have felt disappointed.

After 2 years of uncertain times in school, many of our teens are experiencing a drop in confidence levels, which can be fragile at the best of times.

Schools and staff have worked hard to make up for shortfalls in their students’ experience and the uncertainties and restrictions due to the pandemic.  If a student’s results indicate that things are not going according to plan, there is time to make adjustments to learning and revision before the summer.

As parents it can be difficult to know how best to help.  So, what can we do?

Invariably teachers are the best source of guidance.  They will know your child and how they perform in school.  In all likelihood they will have marked your child’s mock exam paper.  They have an overview of the curriculum and the exam board specifications.  They will be well placed to give relevant and important feedback and guidance.

For a student who is disappointed, it is important for them to try not to panic, or dwell on the mark or grade itself.  They need to be encouraged to accept that it was perhaps not the mark they hoped for, and to try to move forward, looking carefully at feedback, and working with their teachers to form a plan.  Mocks are a learning experience and a means to an end.

Encourage your child to speak to staff in person, otherwise it is tempting for them to look at feedback and then put it to the back of their mind.  A chat with their teacher is the best way to establish what can be improved.  Students who find it hard to speak to staff in class might prefer to contact their teacher by email in the first instance.  A conversation with their teacher will show staff that the student is engaged and motivated to ask for guidance.  Teachers in their turn can help students to identify what will make the most difference.

If there is something they do not understand, it is important to remind your child to ask questions. In addition to providing feedback, many staff offer revision classes or are happy to timetable regular catch-up conversations with students.

Some work on revision skills based on your child’s learning style might be helpful.  Or it may be that focus on improving their organisational skills and addressing procrastination needs a little attention.  Learning how to set priorities and find a good work/extra-curricular balance can be invaluable at this stage.

Sometimes it only requires a small adjustment in approach to make a significant difference to grades.  It is often the case that marks are dropped not for insufficient preparation in a topic, but by not reading the question accurately, not answering the question asked, not showing evidence or calculations, or running out of time in the exam.  Much can be done to practise and address these.

School tests, assessments and mocks provide opportunities for students to become more familiar with the types of question they will need to answer in their GCSE and A Levels.  Pupils have an opportunity to consider mark schemes, the length of answers required, and how long to spend on questions.  They will build up an idea of what to expect and how it will feel.

Revising for any assessment is a good way to see what works for each individual, and alter the approach if needed.  Remember, every single exam style practice completed is a valuable opportunity for learning and skill development.

No one likes disappointment: but there is a real chance at this stage, with a little application and adjustment, to make a significant difference in the run up to GCSEs and A Levels.

What went well?  What could be better?  There are various ways to approach revision to find a method which works best for each student.  Once a student knows which methods work for them, good revision techniques can increase exam confidence and reduce anxiety levels.

Lizzie Mitchell: As a university lecturer, Lizzie has been providing academic advice and support for students at university level for the past 12 years.  She has developed revision skills advice sessions for small group or 1:1 delivery, which she provides privately to individual students, and to schools. Contact Lizzie via the link below for more support and guidance.

Contact Lizzie Here

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