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This month we hear from a family where a child has not got the GCSE mock exam results they had hoped for.

Mock exams taking place10 February 2022

Q: Our child is bright and we had high hopes for a good set of GCSE results this summer but the results of their mocks exams were terrible and this has come as a real shock. How can we make the most of the time they have left for exam revision before the real GCSE exams in the summer?

A: Is it possible the results are not as bad as you think? It’s easy for parents – particularly those sending their children to academically selective schools – to fall into the trap of believing that anything less than a clean sheet of 9s is a failure. Put your child first and your expectations second and don’t compare their grades to those of siblings or friends who may have done better. Mocks are great for highlighting gaps in knowledge and understanding, and there’s still time to make dramatic improvements with the right approach. Schools tell us that with consistent work, most pupils will raise their grades by one or two points in the real exam.

Once the dust has settled, take a look at the possible reasons why your child’s grades may have fallen short of expectations. If it seemed to you that they weren’t taking their revision seriously, then now is the time to focus, without judgement, on the parts that did go well and remind them of how much better they could do if they put in more effort. If it seemed to you that they were working their hardest, though, perhaps they are not revising in the most effective way. Help them research active revision techniques and work out which suits them best. Techniques could include word maps, flash cards or colour coded notes. A ‘golden hour’ of exam question practice is a great way to hone technique. Encourage your child to choose a likely question, spend twenty minutes revising the answer, twenty minutes answering the question and the remainder of the hour marking their work and looking at where they could have improved. Remind them that just poring laboriously over their notes is not going to help them – it’s all about practice!

Their school should have given detailed feedback by now on the mock exam papers which will highlight any gaps in knowledge or understanding. Encourage your child to ask for extra time with teaching staff if there is something they need clarified. Lots of schools have subject clinics at break and lunch times and now is the time to use those too.

Finally (and possibly most importantly) remember that whilst they may seem like the be all and end all right now, GCSE grades don’t define your child’s character or value as a person. Their future success as an adult will depend on so much more than grades, so the important thing now is to keep things in perspective, stay calm and make sure you support your child to maintain their confidence and self-esteem as much as possible, whilst helping them reach their academic potential and the grades they need to move to the next stage in their education.


Do you want help from The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants?

Our expert education consultants can provide your family with one-to-one help on all of the issues raised in this article and many more. We regularly guide parents on best practice for exam preparation and assist them in mapping out potential educational pathways for their children. If you would like to find out more about our services, visit the Education Consultants homepage or to speak directly with one of the team email [email protected] or call 0203 286 6824

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