• Karen MB

Oh no the mocks are coming!

The days are getting shorter and that can only mean one thing: winter is coming. And winter means exams.

I usually find that the winter mocks bring with them many, many requests for tuition. Students (and parents) are suddenly faced with the reality that their predicted grades are not quite where they need or want them to be. But that is the beauty of mock exams -- they are a rehearsal -- and we all know that an unsatisfactory rehearsal means the actual performance will be great, right?

Well yes and no. For some students a little shock is all the motivation they need; they knuckle down, redouble their efforts and walk away in the summer with the results they require. For others the shock can have a very detrimental effect: confidence disappears and is replaced with panic, anxiety and despondency.

It is this second group of students I most often find myself working with -- the ones who get receive their mock results and find they have a three or a borderline four when they were expecting a five or even a six. They are often distraught and don't know how even to begin to try to improve their grades. They don't know what they are doing "wrong". Or they have decided they are hopeless and are at risk of disengaging from their study entirely.

These are my favourite students.

In the vast majority of cases they are actually some of the most insightful, articulate and analytical young people you could ever want to meet. They understand far more than they think they do; they know far more than they think they do; they simply don't realise it yet. And they don't know how best to demonstrate all this brilliance under timed conditions. They are often so focussed on what they have been told they mustn't do: "don't use the word 'shows'; "don't use 'positive' or 'negative' in your answer"; you MUST write 600 words" and so on, that they sit there paralysed, forgetting all the great things they CAN do.

I usually work with borderline, fed-up, English-hating students. And you know, by the time I have finished working with them some of them actually like English -- even poetry -- and so far, every single one of them has "passed" (that is, achieved at least a grade four, or a C in old money). In fact, none of them has settled for a four; the lowest has been a five, the highest A*s.

So if you are reading this in the run up to the mocks, or just after, worried about your son or daughter ending up having to modify their plans potentially to accommodate retakes and missing the requirements for their desired next steps, please get in contact -- the sooner the better. Exams do not have to be a chore and studying for them can be fun, I promise!

Remember, the later you leave it, the less time there is to turn things around.

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