bouncing back from mock exams
Exams and Revision

Bouncing back from mock exams: how to make a game plan

If your teen took their mock exams and didn’t do as well as they’d hoped, all is not lost. Once they’ve had a chance to accept their reality and recover a little, you can help them reflect and then make a game plan together. Here’s how you can get them bouncing back from mock exams.

1. Get to the root of the problem

Were they disappointed in just one subject or a whole range of them? In other words:

  1. Are they struggling with something in particular?
  2. Or do they need to change their general approach to revision?

Understanding this will help them take control and be proactive about improving their results. The good news is if they need some extra help with either, a one-to-one tutor can help.

2. Help to re-frame their attitude to tough subjects

It’s easy for anyone to write off a challenging subject. Maths/English [delete as appropriate] can quickly feel impossibly difficult. And it’s easy to give up if your teen feels like they’ll never ‘get’ Pythagoras/Shakespeare.

At this point, try to encourage them to see the good in the bad. Help your teen make an action plan for their next round of revision and break tough modules down into smaller chunks.

Help them incentivise their learning with small rewards, like their favourite snack or episodes of their favourite TV show. This will get them bouncing back from mock exams in no time.

bouncing back from mock exams

3. Try a different revision approach

If they were disappointed with a few of their results, it’s probably worth your teen changing their revision strategy. A few small tweaks to their revision methods could make a big difference to their grades.

Here are a few ideas for changing the way they revise:

  1. Re-think time management – help them make a (realistic) study timetable and stick to it, or try the Pomodoro technique.
  2. Test, test, test – with past papers, 15-minute speed essays or getting someone to test you. Make sure you do plenty of testing as this is what helps you remember.
  3. Go visual – not everyone learns by re-reading or writing out notes. From mind maps to flashcards, if they’re a more visual learner, these techniques can help.

4. Get some extra support

If they’re really struggling, think about getting them some extra help. There might be a study club at school, you could offer to do practice tests with them, a teacher might be able to give them some extra support or you could try an online tutor.

It’s a good idea to reach out earlier than later, so your teen can get back on track for the real exams.

5. Talk to their teachers for more detailed feedback

Good teachers tend to give good feedback. Talk to your teen’s subject leads to find out where your teen could improve. They might be able to provide specific feedback to help with bouncing back from mock exams.

Learning how to improve their work based on constructive feedback is a great life skill to learn, too.

6. Learn from how things are marked

If their teachers don’t give them the amount of feedback they need from their mocks, it’s worth doing a bit of research yourself. Luckily, there are often repeated patterns or themes to questions. Science papers might ask similar questions but in different ways and there are common questions asked on each set-text in English.

A great thing to do is to look at the mark scheme of a paper with your teen and make sure that they fully understand the assessment objectives and know how to pick up the marks. Even if they know all there is to know about photosynthesis, they can only be rewarded if they say what the examiner is looking for.

bouncing back from mock exams

7. Encourage some downtime

Not getting the grades they want can be stressful, and your teen might be spiralling into self-doubt. Remind them that there are bigger things in life than exams (despite how it might feel). It’s also important to take a break and have some time to recharge before the real exams start. Check out these mindful activities that can help ease stress and anxiety.

Think they need extra help bouncing back from mock exams? Your teen might benefit from online tuition. Find the right tutor for them here.

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