With some Junior and Leaving Cert students finished their mock exams since before the midterm break and the rest beginning theirs this week, one of the most stressful periods of the year is well underway. The mock exams mark the moment when many students and their teachers realise that the exams in June are fast approaching, and this pressure can make or break a student. As such, teachers should tread carefully around the mock exams in order to make the most of the experience. While both new and experienced teachers can struggle around this time, the tips below will allow all teachers to make the most of mock exams and help their students going forward.
1. Clarify the purpose
Ensure that students understand that mock exams are designed to mirror the exam experience and act as a practice run for state examinations. As such, mock exams should be treated the same as the exams in June in order to better identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
2. It’s not ‘only the mocks’
Many teachers and students will be familiar with the saying “it’s only the mocks”, and while this viewpoint may be reassuring students can fail to take mock exams seriously as a result. Stress the importance of taking the exams seriously, but avoid putting students under excess pressure.
3. Stay positive
Optimism is key at this point in the year, so remind yourself and your students that doing well in the mock exams is a good sign but that doing badly can inspire hard work and highlight areas that need to be improved. Whatever their outcome, mock exams are a learning experience.
4. Address predictions
Students who finished their exams before the midterm break should be discouraged from sharing the contents of their papers with students from other schools, and those who are beginning their exams this week should be discouraged from asking students from other schools for predictions. Remind students that they would only be fooling themselves and that this strategy will not work in June.
5. Remember other students
While it is understandable that teachers need to take time to supervise and correct mock exams, try to pay attention to students who are not sitting exams. These students will understand that exam years are every teacher’s priority, but remember to keep the momentum going in all classes.
6. It’s only the mocks
Even though this point of view can discourage students from working hard, teachers should remember that the mock exams are a learning experience and try not to put themselves under too much pressure. Stressed teachers can contribute to stressed students, so remember – it’s only the mocks!
7. Explain feedback
Mock exams are often corrected by external examiners, and students may not fully understand unfamiliar feedback. Encourage students to come to you with any questions to ensure that they get the most from the experience.
8. Ask for feedback
Students’ grades are often used to direct future revision before the exams in June, but asking students what they felt was good or bad about the papers they sat can also give an insight into what needs to be done. Solve any issues directly after the exams and show your students that their opinions are important.
9. Repeat if necessary
One common misconception about mock exams is that they only happen once. Teachers can order papers from a variety of companies and ask students to sit additional mock exams after school if necessary. This allows students to practice exam technique and perfect their timing before their exams in June.
10. Harness new energy
Regardless of how well students do in their exams, they often experience a burst of motivation after experiencing a situation that mirrors the state examinations. Teachers can use this new energy to get work done and consolidate new habits such as following a study plan each night.
The mock exams provide teachers with a unique insight into the work that needs to be done with each student, and the above tips will allow all teachers to make the most out of the experience. Tweet us @adaptemy or post to our Facebook page and let us know your tips for surviving the mocks! We congratulate all students who have finished their exams and wish the best of luck to those who are beginning this week.