I am a parent of 15 years old boy who is doing year11 GCSE. I am seeking advice to help my son and also me to help my son. He just got his GCSE mock exam results and they are disappointing from his point of view. He is very upset because he got mainly 6s and one 7 and one 5.
First of all I must explain my son grades were, since year 7, seen as average with rare moments of high grades (e.g. grade 8 in chemistry) and few of bad ones (e.g in year 10 he got 4 in history). Over the summer of last year we had a long father to son conversation about the future and the need to start taking his education more seriously. He promised the family he will make serious efforts and he meet his words with action. Since the start of year 11 he was studying hard using the 20 school GCSE level books I bought for him. He was studying for 2-3 hrs per day and revised for the mock exams as per a plan we created together. I also help him to learn revision techniques and watched youtube for Ex-GCSE students who achieved high grades and do flashcards etc.
So I know for sure he was doing all the right things to excel in the mock exams and was expecting higher grades than the mentioned above. I checked his exam papers and noticed he lost so many marks in simple questions and did well in the high marks. In the past years he had issue with time management in the exam and decided to address it this year by focusing on the high marks question first and then quickly doing the lower marks.
The moral is very low this week so I told him it is not over until it is over in may/June of this year when he does his real GCSE. We will go back to the drawing board so to speak and see what we can do to improve his grades. We will put some focus on doing alot of past test papers.
I am hoping you can advice us as how to improve his grades.
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GCSE Mock Exam results watch
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Personally, as a year 11 student, I realised that what was causing my pretty average results on mocks was what I was told to do the most - revision. I would revise an absolute ton before the first mocks just to secure the good grades to show myself that I can do this, but ultimately I got disappointed with 5s and 6s. What I started doing after the first mocks is I started to focus more on myself and my realistic future targets, and I decided to stop revising as rigorously as I would do before. Suddenly, my grades improved from 5s and 6s to 7s and above on the most recent mocks.
Another one of my experiences is that my parents left everything on myself - from their point of view, my future is purely my choice, thus they left me to myself when it comes to my school life. The only school issues that they're concerned with are my lates and detentions, but other than that, they just don't care. As a matter of fact, they didn't even help me learn English when we moved to England a couple years ago, leaving me to learn everything by myself. In the end I think I really benefited from the independence they offered me when it comes to my own life.
The point I'm trying to make is that it could potentially be beneficial for your son if you just asked him to spend some of his time to recontemplate his plans for the future and you could ask him whether he is trying so hard for his own satisfaction or to just make you happy. I feel like it might be a good idea to not make him work as hard and to generally make him work his way up gradually during the 5 months period that he has. I would also recommend trying to decrease the amount of revision that he does. Although I don't know what your expectations are of him, I still think that 2-3 hours of revision a day are a bit of a hard hit for your son, even though he might not appear to feel that way. I would also recommend telling him to not worry about all of this too much - that probably just puts more stress on him, which almost certainly makes it harder to think rationally during the exams.
I would also like to add that I am in no way trying to criticise the way you bring up your child. I am just trying to suggest what might potentially work for him (it could not work, I don't know your son) based on what worked for me and many of my friends.
I’m also in year 11, and I think the biggest contributor to grades is actually exam technique. My English teacher marked gcse exams last year, and said that you could have the knowledge of an English professor and still not get full marks on the gcse because (especially with the reformed gcse) the exam board are looking for very specific answers. For my mocks I spent the majority of time revising structuring answers (in RE for example if you don’t have a conclusion on your 15 mark answer you can’t get more than 3 marks!). Whilst this may not be a good reflection of your knowledge of the subject, it basically tests your ability to pay very close attention to the wording of a question and structure your answer appropriately. This means that - although a good general knowledge of the subject is obviously still important - if you don’t know how to structure your answer properly and include little details such as ‘therefore this would influence a Christian to...’ or ‘this appears to be a stronger argument because...’ it can be almost impossible to get top grades.
However, this is quite easy to overcome, especially if your son already has a confident understanding of the basic principles of a subject, as there are plenty of online resources that give example answers and show exactly what you need to include in your answer to get full marks in, say, an 8 mark English language question.
Hope that’s of some help, but at the end of the day GCSEs aren’t the end of the world and all we can do is try our best!