Mock exams should help prepare the child by simulating exam conditions. There are both major benefits and risks to taking a mock exam: the key word is ‘relevance’.
If you enrol your child to sit a mock that covers subjects that do not appear in the real exam, under timings that do not match those in the real test, then this can have disastrous results. In some cases this only serves to undo the considerable efforts the child has invested in their preparation.
The most common mistake is taking a mock exam that tests subjects that are not in the actual exam; yes it does happen. Not only is this misleading the child but more importantly the valuable time devoted to a subject not tested have been spent on subjects that are tested. Another equally fatal mistake is that of timing. If during a mock exam you tell a child they have 30 minutes to complete a section and in the real exam they are actually given 7.5 minutes, you can imagine the impact this will have on day.
There is a common theme amongst new parents I encounter, who in the past have paid out large amounts for non-relevant mock exams. Remember it is not the amount paid that is the issue but relevance to the actual test. The realisation leaves parents both devastated and furious, the focus turns to blame but the final burden rests with you. The one person that I can guarantee that has your child’s best interest at heart is actually you. To help prepare your child you must prepare a little yourself. It is very important that you ask the right questions to ensure the mock exam is relevant; information can be obtained directly from the schools on subjects.
On the topic of frequency, it is more beneficial to take one exam and learn from it rather than sit 10 exams one after another. The process of improving is essential and that is the main purpose behind taking such exams, otherwise the only skill the child will learn is how to make the same mistakes in less time.
The most valuable part of taking a mock exam is the feedback, the child must know what they did wrong to ensure they do not repeat this in the real exam. Make sure you challenge the provider for this information as this is vital if your child is to learn from the process. A score of 90% is actually quite poor if everyone else obtains 95%, similarly a score of 65% is excellent if everyone else scores 45%. This comparison alone will help you to correctly decide if the performance is acceptable or otherwise. Rather than focusing on the score, the attention should be on questions such as did my child check their paper? How long did he/she spend on reading the comprehension? Did they run out of time? If so? How many questions did they guess or leave blank? Did they use their spare time effectively in the exam? Did they fill in the answer sheet correctly? If not? What mistakes did they make? These are key questions which will help you to identify where and how to improve your child’s performance. An overall % score has very little value in showing you where to improve.
You may also be offered a ‘report’ but some may charge you extra for this service. Make sure you are clear as to what you will receive and do not be afraid to ask for a sample if in doubt. If the exam provider is aware of the format then the mock exam will be structured in a way that will easily allow them to obtain subject analysis, this can tell you areas your child needs to improve.
Despite any claims that you may come across, please note historic examination papers are not and have never been published.
As always my focus is on quality rather than quantity. I manage the intake to ensure I can address the points above, creating the right balance enabling me to meet the individual needs of each child in the pre–exam Q&A sessions. This also promotes a healthy competitive environment as replicated in the actual exam. Regardless of where you take the exam, the greatest benefit is in the follow-up, that is where you add value to the mock exam process.
Mock Exam timetable
The last batch of mock exam’s will be scheduled for Y5 students over July and August. If your child is not in my tuition class but you wish wish to secure a mock exam slot, please submit your request using the contact form. Once received, I will confirm timing options and availability.
Revision Week Course
This course runs a week before the Birmingham entrance exam from Monday to Friday. Places are reserved for registered students, any availability is then offered to external students, I will update those on the waiting list with any availability before the end of July.
Mock exam preparation for current students
Those students who are following the learning programme will begin exam preparation early in Year 4, learning techniques and methods on how to review exam questions, as well as best strategy to approach and tackle each section. Weekly timed class tests measure progress and familiarise students with paper layout and timings, these gradually become more challenging as they progress though the course.
The learning is concluded with extensive exam preparation, current students will take part in numerous full length mock exams designed to replicate real exam conditions in both timing and content. Students are given an advantage as the mock exams are intentionally structured to be more demanding than the actual test, containing very challenging material under stricter time conditions.
The ultimate aim is to not only secure their first school preference but to exceed the target by a very wide margin, benefits of this extra effort also come to fruition when they begin their new school relative to their peers. The programme has been designed from the outset with material that not only meets but stretches the standard that is deemed necessary to qualify, as such all children achieve far higher levels that what is required.
One of the key messages that the children take away from the sessions is that stress and worry are inherently associated with being under prepared. Confidence and enthusiasm quickly dispel any angst that may exist once this realisation dawns. An additional objective is to instil awareness that tests are part of the norm as they progress through their learning, this being their first step.
Which exam to prepare for?
Historically children had to sit multiple exams for different schools; this has since been consolidated with ongoing merger of consortiums likely to continue in the future. Important to note that some tests take place over two days, others on one day, some will be standard and others multiple choice, some will test NVR and others will not, some have a greater weighting towards literacy and others towards numeracy and furthermore some will be influenced by an interview. A point to note is that CEM administers many LEA examinations alternating their format dependent on region. Seek clarification of the format and ensure the mock exam is closely aligned to your regional exam. The more specific and closely aligned, the greater the benefit your child will receive. If in any doubt, always ask the question and remember that these tests are not free, you are paying for a service, so try to find one that is closely suited to your requirements.
Factors to keep in mind
Success in exams also requires a degree of confidence; the mock tests are set at a critical time-period very close to the cluster of exam dates. Care is needed to handle this period with delicacy. Putting the 11 plus aside, they are small children after all. Early preparation will remove any pressures and learning for the 11 plus does not have to be an arduous task - starting early and making it fun are the key secrets for success in the 11 plus.
If you have arrived at this website in hindsight and/or missed the whole 11 plus process, remember that the secondary school is simply one of many steps that your child will take. The most important characteristic that defines success is working hard. If you are fortunate enough to have these trait in your child then regardless of which school they use they will end on their destined path. Similarly children not investing the same efforts despite gaining entry to very exclusive schools will also end up at their destination. A selective school does not guarantee excellent results, this is only guaranteed through hard work.
Success can therefore be defined by what type of child you have - rather what school your child attends.