If you’re sitting GCSE or A Level exams next year, the familiar period of mock exams might be looming for you, probably just after Christmas.

Whilst they may seem unimportant, in that the final result doesn’t matter too much, taking them seriously is a great way to get a head start on the “real” exams that you’ll take next year – making sure you do the best possible, and ultimately, get the best grades possible.

Mock exams are a great opportunity to get a feel for what taking the real exams will be like; you’ll experience everything from what it feels to be in the exam hall, doing revision, down to what the exam paper looks like and how you’ll approach it, so everything should be a bit more familiar next summer.

Starting your revision early can give you time to practise different types of revision techniques and can help you find the right method for you. From flashcards, to short bursts, to notetaking, it’s an opportunity to find out what works! Its also a great opportunity to find out when to revise too – after all, some of us are larks, others are owls! Finally, starting your revision early allows time for procrastination – we all do it, and by having plenty of time, allows for those times when you just don’t feel like it.

Mock exams also allow you find out where you have gaps in your knowledge and gives you time to learn these aspects before the real exam. It’s a helpful benchmark to measure your progress between now, and the exam, and can help you evaluate how far you have to go to achieve your target grades and whether your current revision techniques are working for you.

Another familiar part of exams is stress and the pressure of doing well. By having a chance to have a practice run, it can help you to develop ways to deal with stress

These top tips give an overview of the things to focus on in the run up to your mock exams:

1. Make a plan or timetable, and stick to it as far as possible.
2. Use a variety of techniques for revision to help you keep on task and revise thoroughly.
3. Use the notes you’ve made already in conjunction with revision aids, such as flashcards to make sure you cover what you need to.
4. Your teachers are an invaluable resource; contact them to discuss any issues or unfamiliar areas.
5. Don’t forget exam technique! Go over techniques such as time management, making sure you read the questions thoroughly and answer structures well before you sit down in the exam hall! If you don’t answer the question asked, or give an answer for every question, you can’t possibly maximise you marks and show what you really know! Plus, it’s an easy way to gain marks – you don’t need any subject knowledge to use these techniques!

Whatever the outcome of your mocks, it’s important not to dwell on the result. You still have time to improve or change the way you approach your exams. Similarly, if you do really well, it’s important not to rest on your laurels. Take note of the feedback from your teachers, which could be anything from issues around time management, misreading a question to gaps in your knowledge, and work on these over the coming months in the lead up to exam season!