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Chock-a-block with your mocks?

Pupils all around the country have been rehearsing for their real exams in the summer. David Waugh advises on how best to proceed from here

It must seem that every class you teach has recently sat a mock exam of some sort - Years 2, 6 and 9 for SATS; Year 11 for GCSEs and Years 12 and 13 for AS or A2 modules. So, what now?

With the "real" exams creeping ever closer and some students starting to realise the amount of work they will need to do, now is the perfect time to mould students into your way of thinking.

Mock exams give students a chance to see exactly the standard they are working at. Sometimes, this may come as a shock - or sometimes, and worryingly, it lulls them into a false sense of security. But this is the time to instil in them a sense of urgency.

One way of achieving this is by giving students their mock results in exactly the same way as they'd get them after the external exams - whether at a grade or a key stage level. If your subject includes coursework, you should also give them their grade with thecoursework taken into account.

A good test score is often hampered by poor coursework and this reality check will help motivate the students to push themselves more. Conversely, a poor exam with good coursework can give a student the sense of hope that some of them so desperately need.

The pressures of finishing the curriculum often mean that teachers do not spend as much time as they should going through the mock exam. So try to find time to go through each question in class and provide the students with model answers. By reviewing the exam paper in class, students can see the silly mistakes they have made and vow never to make them again. If theirs was a "write-on" exam, make some overhead-projector slides of the paper and write the solutions for them in the lesson. This will give them a chance to see what a perfect exam script looks like.

Teachers tread a fine line when trying to motivate students in preparation for external exams - should you go in hard and scare them into working, or be supportive and offer them a guiding hand?

The time immediately after the mock exams is a crucial one for choosing your role. But go in too hard, and you'll have all your students in for counselling; go in too soft and they won't do any work.

It's best to pitch your approach according to the reaction on their faces when they receive their results. Convincing your students that the countdown to the summer exams has begun will help to motivate them into starting their revision - time spent preparing a revision programme would be well spent.

Give your students a list of books that they should read, websites they could visit, and questions they could answer. And give them some new revision folders. This will promote the idea that they have made a fresh start and that the time has come to get down to business.

It's as well to remind yourself constantly that most students will eventually realise that they won't be able to turn up and pass the exam. In the end, reality will sink in.

David Waugh teaches at Northampton School for Boys

Ten ways to instil exam success culture in your class

1. Give the students their results exactly as they would receive them after the external exams.

2. Include coursework or continual assessment in grades.

3.. Spend as much time as possible going through the exam.

4. Get the students to re-do the exam after you've been through it.

5. Do all you can to promote the idea that the countdown to the 'real' exam has begun.

6. Make sure that the students' parents fully understand the reality of the situation.

7. Provide each student with a copy of a 'perfect' exam script.

8. Try to strike a happy balance between scary and supportive revision lessons.

9. Let the students talk about their fears about the forthcoming exams.

10. Focus equally on your students' strengths and weaknesses.

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