Mocking exams.

Mock exams. The very name suggests that we are simply laughing at the lack of effort so many students have made over the Christmas break to prepare for their forthcoming practice exams. The mocks. When I was a student we took our mocks seriously. We were told the mark would be sent to the exam board as part of our predicted grade and we would have to sacrifice our Christmas holidays to do the very best we could at this point. I was saved the pain of my English exams, because, as I was the third year of GCSEs we were doing 100% coursework. No final exam needed. Can you imagine it? Not any more.

So as of Monday our year 11 students are on Mock study leave in order to do mock exams. They are now beginning to understand. They had a briefing on Friday and sat in shock as they were informed that they weren’t allowed to take bags, coats, phones or any device into the exam hall. They were enlightened as to what the definition of ‘Communication’ was. But, they were also informed that if they so chose to, they were allowed to leave the school site when they didn’t have any exams. The most exciting point apparently being that they can have lunch at KFC without trying to ‘Jump fence’ – freedom indeed. Mock exams have suddenly allowed a degree of freedom that more than makes up for the 5 hour Art exam several students have to wade through.

I am looking forward to the marking…no hint of irony. My year 11s have worked hard; with the exception of Christmas. They have come to lunch boosters; they have engaged in exam question preparation. They have created their own reading questions based on articles and we have analysed the conventions of numerous writing formats, language for audiences and they can detect the purpose of a text from about 20 paces.

So why am I nervous? It’s always the same. I drum the info in and pull the knowledge out. The students prove they can do it, but, just as when my daughters were learning to take their first independent steps; I am still concerned that my students will falter. They won’t, at least not in the Summer. The mocks might be a different story. I can but wait. But in the meanwhile the mocks stare at me, mocking.



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I have been teaching English for 20 years. HOD. T and L. Runner.

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