GCSE and A-level mocks revision: students explain how to get it done

Student working at desk

Make the most of your mocks and they can be a big help ahead of your summer exams. GCSE and A-level students share advice on getting through them

You could probably do without mocks giving you a headache right now. 

At least when you do your actual exams, they're spread out over four or five weeks. But with mocks, they generally get squashed into a single week - creating an incoming exam overload.

It’s easy to end up procrastinating. Or maybe easing your revision guilt with the classic 'I won't revise for my mocks, cos then I'll know what I really know'... 

But, since you’ve made it as far as this article, you're probably thinking about getting some prep done now. You’re unlikely to regret it. Do your mocks right and it can be a huge help for your exam prep in the summer.

I have my A-level mocks in December and they are very important because they indicate what I need I am doing well and what I need to work on in order to do better in the real exams.


Here we’ve got a quick guide to getting through your mocks, based on tips from A-level and GCSE students in The Student Room community.

See what works for you - and remember there are plenty of people to chat with in the study help forums.

Practise your preparation

Doing your mocks gives you valuable practice of sitting an exam. But it also gives you the chance to practise preparing for an exam.

Building out an exam study plan can help give you focus - and it can be a dry run for the summer.

Start with the exam dates and build your plan working back from there. We’ve got a guide that goes into much more detail on creating a revision plan, using more advice from members of The Student Room.

Plan ahead! Print out a calendar, mark important deadlines, exam dates and structure your study. 


(And, if you're reading this and thinking 'that's no use - my mocks are next week', head over to this article where a former teacher explains how to cram effectively.)

Treat them like the real thing

With your study plan sorted, you've made a big step into the exam mindset.

Try to focus on these as if they were the real thing. That way, summertime revision will be a little less of a shock to the system.

I'm a supporter of mocks as they help you get used to real exam conditions and they definitely helped in my GCSEs.


We’ll go into some study tips below - but for more detail this article explains how to study effectively for your exams.

Try out different ways of revising

So, what’s the best way to revise? It depends on how you like to learn - so now is a good time to find out what works for you. 

‘Active learning' is popular within The Student Room community. This is basically being creative and developing a stock of revision resources: flashcards, mindmaps, notes, quizzes – whatever helps you learn best.

Active recall is a must, doing [past paper questions] and looking over the textbook, flashcards for terms (both Quizlet and Anki)


Making these revision resources for your mocks means you’ve already made a start on the prep for your summer exams. You can just develop them by adding new subject topics as you get closer to the real thing.

I like using flashcards to revise, specifically online ones on StudySmarter that I have made as I can make them to target my weaknesses.


Here's where you can find free revision resources online as recommended by members of The Student Room, to create flashcards, mind maps, quizzes and more. 

I like to make revision posters, basically rewriting notes but I try to fit it all on one page. Then before the exam, I can quickly scan over it and try to remember all the information. It also makes sure I understand all the content since it's hard to rewrite something into your own words if you don't understand it.


This is a time-consuming thing to do, but I basically sat down and started re-doing my notes to streamline and improve them a little bit. I went over my old notes and class resources, which resulted in basically studying, and then the process of writing it all again helped commit it to memory.

Scotland Yard

You might need to study in a different way from before

If you’re doing A-levels, you’ll already know they’re pretty different from GCSEs. It might be that your revision methods are also going to be different. 

It’s a good idea to be open to different ways of revising, rather than assuming that what you did before will still be relevant

Past papers. Flashcards don't work for me anymore as there's simply too much content, the only way to effectively revise for me is to just do the thing until I remember it.


I personally do blurting for each topic and then move onto past paper questions, but this is time consuming so you can miss out the blurting if you're short on time. The Feynman technique is also really helpful. You basically explain the content out loud as if you were explaining it to a five-year-old


Embrace past papers

Past papers are a key revision method for many people on The Student Room. These test your knowledge and show what you need to recap. Find them on the exam board websites - and make sure you get the mark schemes and examiner reports at the same time.

Go through a past paper or two and then see the mark scheme to see what you did wrong - I found that, particularly in Chemistry and Biology, the mark schemes could be a bit pedantic and so knowing what they're looking for helps a lot in not losing marks to pedantry.

Scotland Yard

Don't be afraid to repeat questions you've seen before, they help to reinforce any new things you've learnt from doing the [past paper questions]!


And finally...get help from The Student Room community

One of the busiest areas of The Student Room is our study help section. In here, you'll find thousands of other GCSE and A-level students to chat with. 

Find your subject on the main study help page, or go straight to the GCSE or A-level sections. You can read through existing discussions or create a new one yourself.

You might even decide to start up a study blog in our Grow your Grades section - just as some of the students quoted in this article have done. It's a great way to focus your mind on what you want to achive over the coming months. Good luck with your mocks!

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