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I messed up my mocks… what do I do?

Were your mock results not quite what you hoped for? Or, worse, you've been completely knocked for six and don't know what to do next?

Bad mock results can be disheartening, and it’s important to know why you didn’t get the marks you wanted so you can improve next time.

If you didn’t bother to revise much, now’s the time to be honest with yourself and prepare better in future. 

You’re not alone. Lots of students have mock results they’re less than pleased with, and pull it back for the main results – don’t forget they’re the exams that count.

So what should you do now?

Firstly, don't panic

This is exactly what mocks are for: a trial run before you face the real thing in the spring:
I got DDB in my AS mocks last year and came out at the end of Year 12 with ABB. Careyboyle, Tsr Forum Member
Everybody messes up mocks. Just got a C and an E in my A2 mocks, but my teachers still agree I’m on track for my A*AA. Alexion, Tsr Forum Member

So what do you do if you suffered a mocks disaster? Mock exams – five steps to improve for the real thing...

1. Don't dwell

There isn't time to. You can't afford to spend a couple of weeks with a black cloud above you, lamenting that your future is down the toilet (it's really not).

Shake it off, focus on what's ahead of you, and start making changes today.

Kick off your revision with our special advice section for exam season

Watch now: How to calm exam nerves


2. Don't ignore the problem

The other extreme to avoid is pretending that your mocks didn't happen. If your results aren't what you were expecting, take it as a sign that you need to change something.

This could be your study habits or how you split your attention across your subjects – see how A* students revised for their exams. If you remain in denial and do nothing different, the same thing is likely to happen when you come to the real thing. 



3. Speak to your teachers

Your teachers will be on the case already. Book in some time at lunchtime, break or before or after school to speak to them properly about where you went wrong. A rushed 30 seconds before you dash off for your next class isn't enough to make a significant difference. 

Ask questions where you don't understand something – don't just say you 'get it'. Do take up offers of after-school revision classes or regular catch-ups for extra guidance.

4. Where did you go wrong exactly?

While a bad mock exam boils down to not getting enough marks, it's important to understand why this was the case. Was it...:
  • time management: did you set aside enough time for different sections of the exam (particularly those worth the most marks)? If not, learn to keep an eye on the clock and identify the sections where you can get the most marks.
  • misreading the question: the pressure of an exam situation can do funny things to you, and misreading a question is a common one, even if it seems really silly. In the real thing, don't pick up your pen until you've read the question two or three times. Underline key words and prompts so they stand out. 
  • not showing calculations: a common one in maths exams especially, where your final result isn't always what the examiner is looking at. If your method is sound, you can still pick up marks.
  • not providing evidence: correct sourcing is important in subjects such as history or psychology, where there are lots of dates, names and case studies to remember. Making wild claims or arguments isn't enough; you have to show evidence to back up everything you say.


5. Your revision timetable

Plan what you need to study to ensure you cover this sufficiently in time for the exam – picking random chapters in a textbook to read probably isn't the most productive use of your revision time.

Tweet from @AHSFutures

Breaking down everything you need to study into chunks will make everything much less overwhelming. Draw up a revision timetable you can realistically stick to, factoring in extra time for those areas that need more attention, and to go through past papers.
Past papers, past papers, past papers! I wasn't happy with my mocks last year so I worked very hard from like Feb / March onwards to make sure I got the grades I wanted / needed. It worked and now I've got an offer from my favourite uni. It pays off, just make sure you work! Tvio, Tsr Forum Member


Thanks for the great advice offered by forum members on The Student Room – follow the thread link for more discussion.

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