Several of our students have been attending various mock exams over the past few weeks with some surprising and also some shocking results.

We believe that mock exams can be an invaluable tool as part of a student’s 11+ preparation. The experience of sitting in unfamiliar surroundings and tackling two full papers with a short break in between – just like the real thing – can be really beneficial BUT:

Parents need to very careful when choosing which mock exams to attend as there is a huge risk that the experience will actually do more harm than good to the child’s confidence and we see this every year.

Most mock providers will not allow parents to have sight of the question papers at all but will produce colourful reports showing your child’s position within the cohort that took the tests. Bear in mind that a large percentage of the cohort will be being tutored by the mock provider and will be familiar with their materials and will more than likely achieve the best scores. We have noticed more and more that there often seems to be one student who manages a ridiculously high score at these events. Hmmm..’Outside’ students are much more likely to be nearer the bottom end of the scores. We believe that mocks run in this manner are meaningless in terms of the result.

Beware of being offered expensive ‘summer revision courses’ – usually online – by these tuition centres.

Some mock providers have taken to combining scores from previous years creating a sort of cumulative – much larger – cohort. Here in Gloucestershire we have one tuition company that has been administering exactly the same papers for the last 4 years and simply add the results to previous scores. These scores are obviously distorted and without sight of the actual questions, meaningless to parents.

The only mock exams worth attending are those where access to the actual questions is possible and where the questions are relevant and are likely to appear in a CEM 11+ in multiple choice format. The tests should be administered in timed sections and answers should be marked on a separate answer sheet. We can then, as tutors, see where mistakes have been made – sometimes something as simple as getting lost and being one question ‘adrift’ on the answer sheet – and work with the children to improve. No child wants to have to have to go through their mistakes but we try to emphasize that everyone makes mistakes and it is absolutely fine to do so, provided you learn from your mistakes.

There we are, rant over!

This weeks homework is here: Week 39 Leap Homework