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Making Mocks Work: Before, during, and after mock exams.

Visualise – Prepare – Replicate – Stay – Review – Reward – Reset

We recently laid out some of the benefits of taking mock or preliminary exams, but knowing they are good for you doesn’t mean you won’t find mocks or prelims intimidating.  We have some tips to make sure you make the most of your mocks: before, during, and after the exams.


Know what will happen. You should know in advance the length of time and the format of the paper. Have a plan for how long you will have to spend on each section and make sure you have a watch or clock to keep yourself on track. If there is a long gap until the real exam, you may not have covered or revised all the material. If this is the case you might allocate your time a little differently – discuss this with your subject teacher first.

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Prepare, don’t cram. If you’re using GoConqr, you are already revising and planning for the exams, maybe using the revision timetable. Consistency is the key – you can’t cram everything into the last minute – especially because you need to use those last minutes to make sure that you are well rested – all the revision will come to no good if you fall asleep during the exam!


Make it real. Try to make the mock conditions as similar as possible to the real exam conditions – if you’ll be expected to wear a uniform or follow a dress code for the exam – do it for the mocks. If you will need to use a pencil in the real exam – use it for the mocks. If you will not be allowed food and drink in the real exam, don’t eat or drink during the mocks. On the day of the real exam you will be stressed enough without encountering stricter rules for the first time.


Stay til the end of the examParticularly if it’s not going so well, you might be tempted to leave in the middle of an exam. Don’t! Sometimes the stress of the exam seems overwhelming, but take some calming breaths and focus on what you do know. You don’t have to be sure that all your answers are correct – if you write something, it might be right or wrong – if you don’t write something – you’ll get 0 for that question.


After the exam: Reflect.  Figure out what you knew and what you need to work on. Remember it’s not just about knowing the right answers for the mock – the mock isn’t the real exam! What you want to identify is not just particular questions that you didn’t know, but what areas you struggle with. Sometimes, when you get the results you’ll be surprised because they were better than expected – this is great for the mock result, but that isn’t the real exam! If you felt unsure about some topics during the exam, you may need to spend more time on them, even if the mock result was okay. Figure out what felt subjectively bad at the time and what you objectively did badly on – then spend more time on these areas as you prepare for the real exam.


Reward yourself (but don’t rest on your laurels). Getting through your mocks is a big achievement, whether you gave 110% or started out a little too late – you survived. Congratulate yourself (and your friends if they were doing exams too!), treat yourself, and then get back to study. Unless you are incredibly smart, or incredibly luckily, you will probably have some room for improvement.


Now the mocks are done, it’s time to prep for the real exams. Armed with the experience of sitting a mock you can approach the real exam with confidence, even if the results were not what you had hoped for. Adjust your study planner, continue your revision and practice until you’re ready for the real thing.


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