Blog

The Importance of Online Mock Exams for IGCSE and A Levels Students

a student completing his online mock exam

At Cambridge Home School, we have a strong focus on helping our students secure top grades in their IGCSE and A Levels examinations. In June 2021, 86% of our IGCSE students achieved A*/A or 9 to 7 grades in their target subjects. 83% of A Levels students achieved two A’s and a B or higher, as required by the leading universities today. Moreover, all students (100%) who applied for undergraduate studies received offers from top universities.

Our track record is largely attributed to the commitment of our MA/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers, the hard work and diligence of our students, and our unique approach to online schooling. At Cambridge Home School, we keep the classroom size small (8 to 10 pupils per group) to maximise engagement, retentive learning, and interactivity.

By maintaining a low pupil-teacher ratio, we help our teachers provide individualised attention to each student. As a result, students are able to clarify complex concepts and get one-on-one support from their teachers.

We also offer an independent curriculum to ensure that each student receives a multidisciplinary education and performs exceptionally well on their exams. These pillars collectively support the foundation of quality online schooling, which has always been our top priority. Online mock exams also form one of the many pillars we’ve constructed over the years.

At Cambridge Home School, our students must sit online mock exams before sitting their IGCSE or A Levels examinations. While many parents understand the importance of online mock exams for IGCSE and A Levels students, some parents often question us about this approach.

We understand that mock exams may sound like an unnecessary step, especially if students have prepared meticulously well all along. In actuality, this step is anything but unnecessary.

In this blog, we’ll help you get a good grasp of the importance of online mock exams. We’ll also cover the disadvantages of skipping IGCSE and/or A Levels mock exams.

Identifying Potential Weaknesses

a student checking feedback on his online mock exam performance

Despite how well-prepared a student may be, they may fail to perform exceptionally well on their exams in the first go. This may be due to many reasons. In some cases, students suffer from a bad case of exam anxiety leading up to or during their exams. It’s also possible that a student fails to recall certain concepts as well as they did during the revision stage. Or perhaps certain concepts are recalled incorrectly, which invalidates their answer(s).

There’s a lot that can go wrong as a student sits their exams for the first time. Online mock exams help uncover potential knowledge gaps, memory problems, conceptual errors, or any other mistakes that could be made due to insufficient revision or stress. Identifying these gaps is imperative.

Unfortunately, many institutions forgo mock exams, which results in students making critical mistakes during their final IGCSE or A Levels exams. It’s important to note that these examinations hold immense weightage. If a student fails to secure top grades, their chances of getting admitted to a prestigious university significantly decline.

At Cambridge Home School, our online mock exams serve as a safety net for students. Before conducting an online mock exam, we ensure that each student sits numerous tests. However, formal mock exams have the same structure as final IGCSE or A Levels exams. They also carry the same pressure.

By giving students a taste of what lies ahead, we ensure that their palate acclimatises to the intensity, newness, and sharpness of the new flavours. If there are certain flavours that they simply aren’t equipped to handle, we help refine their palate before the final tasting test.

Putting this metaphor aside, we help fill potential knowledge gaps to ensure that each student performs exceptionally well on their final exams. Since each issue is promptly and assiduously addressed before the big day, students also feel less nervous, unprepared, and stressed. They sit their exams with confidence and a strong commitment to do their best.

Recommended Read: How to Prepare for Your IGCSEs as a British Expat in the Middle East

Ensuring Seamless Time Management

a student completing her online mock exam

According to research, time constraints significantly affect exam performance. Students perform much better on examinations that don’t have a time limit as opposed to those that do. If your child is acquiring a British education, they can’t steer clear of time constraints. IGCSE and A Levels examinations have strict time limits.

Unfortunately, time management is one of the most common stumbling blocks faced by students. If they fail to manage their time effectively, students may i) rush their answers, ii) leave certain questions unanswered, or iii) forget key concepts in panic. Each of these circumstances can affect their grades.

At Cambridge Home School, we help students master the art of time management from the get-go. This soft skill isn’t just important for their exams, but it’s also invaluable for their future academic journey and career. As they pursue a higher education (undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate studies) and take on a professional role, they can effectively manage their time through and through.

Let’s circle back to exam performance. By sitting online mock exams, students are able to get a good grasp on how to pace themselves throughout the exam. Before setting up a mock exam, we organise several tests, as highlighted earlier. These tests also have time limits. Students are encouraged to carefully divide their time between each section of their exam.

Our MA/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers walk students through the best way to go about this depending on the structure and time duration of the exam. This approach is individualised. As stated earlier, we teach students in small groups of 8 to 10 students. Over time, our teachers are able to get a good grasp of each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Based on these nuances, each student is uniquely advised to allocate their time during their exams.

We structure online mock exams to allow our students to practise their time management skills. If there are any issues, our teachers address and resolve them promptly. This prevents students from making critical time allocation mistakes during their final IGCSE or A Levels exams.

Recommended Read: How to Stay Motivated as You Prepare for Your A Levels From Home

Determining Expected Grades

a student checking his expected grades online

At Cambridge Home School, we’re big believers in consistent academic progress. By sitting online mock exams, students get a chance to determine where they stand. Most of our students perform well on their online mock exams. This is because of their meticulous preparation, the hard work of our teachers, and a strong focus on consistency.

Furthermore, students take multiple tests during the school year. This helps them address and resolve performance gaps in a timely manner. As they receive their mock exam grades, students feel motivated to do even better. If a student secures As in their online mock exams, our teachers encourage them to strive for A*s.

Students who secure Bs and Cs are encouraged to push for As and even A*s. Online mock exam grades serve as a significant source of encouragement and motivation for students. They’re also a massive reality check for students who don’t secure impressive grades. These students feel compelled to push harder, revise meticulously, address their weaknesses, and do better on their final exams.

Over the years, we’ve closely tracked each student’s performance on their online mock exams and final IGCSE or A Levels examinations. The large majority of students have made improvements.

Instead of holding online mock exams particularly close to a student’s final exams, we ensure that there’s a sufficient gap in between.

This is done intentionally to help students clear up concepts, revise, get a better grasp on complex subtopics, work on their time management skills, and improve their exam performance on the whole.

Unfortunately, many institutions hold online mock exams extremely close to the final exams. This leaves students with little to no room to improve. By forgoing this approach, we’ve been helping our students secure top grades in their final exams.

Recommended Read: Acing Your IGCSEs in 2021: Are Online Classes the Way to Go?

What Are the Disadvantages of Forgoing Online Mock Exams?

students sitting their exams

Presently, several conventional and online schools don’t hold mock exams. Unfortunately, many parents perceive this approach as a step in the right direction. These institutions posit that mock exams are unnecessary and should be replaced with individualised revisions till the very end.

While we agree that individualised revision is imperative, we also believe that mock exams are just as useful. Students who directly sit their examinations without sitting mock exams beforehand feel more nervous, stressed, and anxious. Since they haven’t been placed in the nerve-racking IGCSE/A Levels exam-taking environment before, they feel out of place.

It’s important to note that many students never experience this extent of nervousness or intimidation at all. However, institutions shouldn’t take this risk. According to research, exam anxiety (also known as “test anxiety”) affects between 10% and 40% of students. The exact percentage cannot be determined.

As an institution, we take this statistic seriously. By scheduling online mock exams, we help our students acclimatise to the high-pressure exam-taking environment. Prior to sitting their exams, students are provided tips to feel calm, confident, and focused during their exams. If they fail to perform well because of their mental health, they’re provided the support and guidance they need in a timely manner.

At Cambridge Home School, we provide one-on-one success coaching and pastoral support for this very reason. We understand that mental health issues are common among students between the ages of 14 and 19. Stress, anxiety, eating disorders, and depression are unfortunately common among older adolescents in the UK, as indicated by the NHS. Keeping this in mind, we focus on student mental health from a very young age.

Older students who will be sitting their IGCSE or A Levels examinations are also encouraged to focus on their personal development and social growth in addition to their academic success. By balancing all three components, we help students feel confident, secure, and motivated. If they’re struggling at any point, they’re encouraged to reach out to their teachers.

You may be wondering how this correlates with online mock exams. Considering the high rate of mental health disorders among older adolescents in the UK, we understand that certain students may perform poorly on their mock exams for similar reasons. By structuring online mock exams, we get a chance to build this correlation in a timely manner.

If a student performs inadequately on their exams owing to poor mental health, our teachers, counsellors, and education specialists take prompt measures to provide the help they need. We don’t take mental health lightly. Online mock exams give us the opportunity to help students who are struggling. As we help them get back on track, we ensure that they feel content and motivated again. We also help them secure top grades and protect their future.

By forgoing online mock exams, many institutions fail to identify the underlying reasons that trigger poor exam performance. These reasons may range from stress to poor time management to inadequate revision to conceptual abstruseness. They may also include something as easily correctable as procrastination.

Ultimately, we shoulder the responsibility of helping our students perform exceptionally well on their exams. As educators, we’re committed to ensuring that each student reaches their potential and performs to the best of their ability. By holding online mock exams, we get one step closer to achieving this goal.

a student completing her homework online

If you’re considering switching from a conventional school to virtual international school, Cambridge Home School should be your top consideration. We offer four homeschooling programs in the UK, Europe (including Western Russia), Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia:

  • Primary Prep/Key Stage 2(ages 8 to 10)
  • Lower School/Key Stage 3(ages 11 to 13)
  • Upper School/IGCSEs(ages 14 to 16)
  • Sixth Form/AS & A Levels(ages 17 to 19)

With over 19 years of experience, we’re committed to providing quality Cambridge online education UK motivated English-speaking students. Make the switch to online learning by browsing through our admissions process. If you require further assistance at any step of the way, we’re always happy to help.

Find out more about international school for British expats here.