by Graeme Matthews

January 21, 2019

Mock Exam Results Explained

Are you concerned about your child’s mock exam results? This week nationwide students took their mock exams in their A-level subjects and waited for their tutors to mark their papers. Some students were happy with the result that they earned on their mock exams and believe that they are on track to secure a place at the university of their choice. 

Other students were unhappy with their mock exam results and have had conversations with their subject tutors where they were given advice such as “study more” or “complete more past paper questions.” Some students who didn’t do well on their mock exams may also have been assigned mandatory study periods in order to help them use their time in the day more effectively.

Did your child do well on their mock exams? If they did well that’s great! If they didn’t do well, as a parent should you be concerned?

The Difference Between Formative And Summative Assessments


To understand the value of mock exams you need to understand how they fit into the learning cycle. Assessments in education are divided into two categories – formative and summative. Once you understand the difference between the two types of assessment you can understand the value of mock exams and will better understand your child’s mock exam results.

Formative assessments are assessments such as HW sets. They are used to monitor the progress that your child is making in the course as they are learning the course material. The teacher marks the HW set and notes which questions the students got correct and which questions they got incorrect. The teacher then tailors the next lesson to reteach any areas where there is a misunderstanding of the concept by the students. Summative assessments are assessments such as quizzes, end of topic tests or mock exams. They are used to assess how well your child understands the topic if its a quiz or an end of the topic exam. Or they are used to assess how your child is progressing in the course compared to a benchmark i.e. their predicted grade if its a mock exam.

A mock exam is a summative assessment of your child’s understanding of the course material to date and is a good indication of how they will perform on their end of course exams.

Help Your Child Be Successful In Their Studies By Helping Them Plan Their Study Time


Now you understand that the mock exam is a formative assessment that assesses your child’s progress in the course you are better equipped to decide whether you should be concerned about the grade on your child’s mock exam result. The answer is that you should be concerned about your child’s mock exam result as its a really good indicator as to how your child will do on the final exam of the course. So, although your child may tell you that “its nothing to worry about” or that “they have things under control”, as a parent you need to step in and take decisive action in order to help your child be successful in their studies.

One action that you can do to help your child is to help them create a revision schedule. In order to save time consider purchasing a dairy with one page for each day of the week. Then sit down with your child and block out and label each hour of the day during the week that they are in class or are attending subject tutorials or other school events. Block out and label time for eating breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as getting ready for the day in the morning. And block out and label an hour to relax at the end of the day and assign a reasonable time to go to bed.

Did you notice how commute time to and from school wasn’t blocked out? If you look at your child’s day on the planner you may notice that there are pockets of dead time throughout their day. For example, commute time to and from school or an hour between lessons on certain days of the week. Using these pockets of dead time to study can help your child become more productive during the day by using their time more effectively. Studying during their daily commute is a productive way to use this time as your child can revise keywords and definitions using an app on their smartphone or review the steps needed to complete a complicated problem.

Your child has probably been told by their tutor that they need to study so many hours a week per subject outside of lesson time. Most schools follow a plan where they assign five hours of homework per week per subject during the school year. However, in the ramp up to the end of course exams, the school may update their plan and recommend that students study five hours a week if they want a C at the end of the course and 20 hours a week if they want an A* in the course. It is now time to sit down with your child and map out the hours of revision time that they need to complete each week in order to earn the grade that they want in the course.

Mock Exam Results: Will Hiring A Tutor Help My Child Earn Better Grades?

Mock Exam Results Explained

A lot of parents panic after their child shows them their mock exam results and believe that a tutor is a solution to improving their child’s grades in their courses. In fact, according to the Evening Standard, 27% of parents have hired a tutor for their child.  The thinking is that their child is not doing well in their studies because of an external issue – the teacher is doing a poor job at teaching the course, the school isn’t providing the needed resources such as access to several years of past paper questions or the latest laboratory equipment or the subject tutorials offered by the school are rather lackluster and ineffective. Parents think that by hiring a tutor they will solve this problem because they are hiring an expert that can meet with their child for an hour a week and the problem is fixed! 

However, our experience indicates that it isn’t an external issue that is causing the poor mock exam results. Rather it is an internal issue that is causing the problem. Many children have not been taught by their subject tutors how to revise effectively for their exams. What they have been taught is how to create a revision schedule with so many hours of revision each week for each of their subjects. What they end up with is a piece of paper with all of their classes colour coded and all of their revision time for each subject colour coded and their days full from the time they get up in the morning to the time they go to bed in the night time. They put their revision schedule into a plastic sheet protector and place it in the front of their day folder and follow their plan and study each of their subjects for a set period of time each day. And at the end of the course, they don’t get the grade that they want on their exams and they enter clearing hoping to find a university that will accept them onto a course. And they feel resentment towards their subject tutors and their school because they did what they were told but they didn’t get the result.

Will hiring a tutor may help your child be more successful in their studies? It depends on the type and quality of the tutor that you hire to help your child. If the tutor understands that the issue with your child’s grades may be internally focused rather than externally focused then your child will improve their grade in the course. If they use strategies to help your child revise more effectively as well as review the subject content then it is worth the investment of your time and money. However, if the tutor just reviews subject content with your child once a week then your child’s grade in the course will not improve dramatically and the money spent will not be a good investment. If you are considering hiring a tutor, read the blog post “Imagine What It Would Feel Like to See Your Child Go to University” for factors to consider when hiring a tutor.


About the author 

Graeme Matthews

Graeme Matthews has a B.Sc and an M.Sc in Chemistry and a PhD in Adult Education. He has been teaching a combination of university level, college and A-level chemistry for over 23 years. He has taught over 10,000 chemistry students in his teaching career. He has a proven track record of helping students earn an A* on their A-level chemistry exams so they can attend the university of their choice.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get a passing grade in A-level Chemistry

Lets Talk