I did rubbish in my mocks – am I doomed?

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Here's how to use your mock results to improve for the real thing

You’re not doomed if you didn’t get the grades you wanted in your mocks – you still have time to turn things around.

It's possible to learn from a less-than-perfect mock experience and use it to help you push on. We’ve got some tips to help you and improve your grades and get ready for exam season. 

Use your result as a benchmark

Your mock grades can give you a starting point to help with your revision for the real exams. Your teacher will have used a mark scheme so your results should be the same as what an examiner would have given you.

To kickstart your revision, ask yourself some key questions:

  • What are your target grades and how far from your mock results are they?
  • How much improvement do you need to make?
  • How much revision did you do for your mocks and how much more can you do for the real thing?
  • Do you need to change your approach to revision?

It can help to be honest with yourself about what your next steps should be.

The important thing is that you learn from your mistakes in the mocks, i.e. identify weak topics and prioritise them when revising and do past papers to improve exam technique.

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Read your answers and the teacher’s comments

It might not be easy to, but it's important to look over your answer for each question. Check if it makes sense and answers the question – and then think about how it could have been improved. 

Your teacher's notes should point out your strongest areas as well as where you’ve slipped up, missed key points or not shown enough of what the exam board wants to see. 

You now have a chance to identify your strengths and weaknesses and tailor your revision accordingly. Get some feedback from your tutors and do plenty of past papers. Make sure you understand where you went wrong and where marks were lost and practice, practice, practice!


Find the gaps in your knowledge and skills

Make a list of the topics you need to know more about – and give them a bit more attention than during revision.

You'll need to show different skills in each exam (like essay writing or remembering specific dates) so think about what you need to do for each paper and work on improving those areas.

I'd take a look at where you went wrong. If necessary, literally list the areas where you fell down. This could be subject areas, exam technique, answer structure, failing to answer the question asked, not answering all parts of the question, etc.

Make a timetable to go back over these areas and then do similar questions from other years' past papers and see if you improve. Repeat as necessary.

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Identify the ‘quick wins’

Your quick wins will be any basic errors that are easy to correct – like if you didn't finish the paper or if you didn't answer the question correctly.

Mark schemes are based around the wording of questions, so you won’t get top marks if you just write everything you know – you need to apply your knowledge to how the question is worded so you write about the right things.

An exam is a game. My advice is to memorise the rule book and the scoring system (i.e. the mark schemes).

It's like blindfolded darts. Understanding the mark scheme is taking the blindfold off so you know what you have to hit.


Do the mock paper again

Retaking the paper is probably the last thing you want to do, but it can help you get better at answering questions. This article goes into more detail about how to make best use of past papers

Try to remove any mistakes and get in all the detail you need when answering questions. You can mark it yourself using the mark scheme or ask your teacher if they’ll take another look.

You should get a better result and feel much more motivated – as well as testing your knowledge and improving your exam technique. 

Mocks really aren't representative of what results you might possibly achieve. You have plenty of time to work hard, but make sure you keep at it. Good luck!


Do mock results count towards my final grade?

Mocks are a trial run and they do not count towards your final grade. But they're a useful way to find out which areas you need to improve on before exam season. 

To help you get ready for the real thing, here's a revision timetable you'll actually stick to – and these YouTubers can help get your revision on track.

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