I teach French from Year 1 to Year 11 in an international school in Tanzania. I give my Year 9 pupils GCSE exam questions as part of their homework. Equating Q1 on an exam paper with level 1 of NC levels, Q2 level 2 etc, I can give a level for their current work and I also used it as part of their end-of-year reports. It not only gives pupils a view of what they can do and how much further they have to go, but is also good exposure to the exam.
With Years 10 and 11, I nearly always do exam questions for homework - this way they get a thorough understanding of the exam. Year 10, term 1: reading exam (foundation) - clump together questions of a similar topic. These can be prepared in advance for the whole term. This is effective because the skills and vocabulary the students practise are relevant to all topics.
Term 2: listening (foundation) with a cassette. This seems initially a lot of work, but it can be reused each year. Term 3: writing (foundation).
Speaking can be done with a booklet and pupils can have individual sessions after school - I can see them all over about three weeks. They really appreciate it and it's good to give them individual feedback.
Year 11 is a combination of all four skills but at higher level. It works because it's here that they see quick progress up the grades. This doesn't preclude giving them higher-tier questions early.
Michael Willis, French teacher, Braeburn School, Arusha, Tanzania