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Merrier Mocks

Reach your goals while enjoying the holidays

Christmas Magdalen College Oxford

The festive season presents a challenge to students who need to revise for mocks over the Christmas break. Having to study in between celebrating with family and friends is no easy task, especially with the further distractions of revision-free siblings and a host of Christmas TV. Nevertheless, there are some easy ways to help students get in good habits and stop the work dampening the holiday spirit.

After the various disruptions to public exams in past years, mocks are well and truly once again the valuable practice exercise they are meant to be. They are a chance for students to build towards the levels of confidence and preparation they would like to have achieved by summer. They now have the opportunity to demonstrate this progress to teachers, without being overwhelmed by the prospect of mocks determining their final grades.

The meaningful metric of progress

Mocks are developmental assessments; they are not final exams. Contrary to the common view that they predict final results, the purpose of mocks is to give students an exam experience. By December, students are not yet halfway through their exam year, so in fact teachers don’t expect them to be performing at the level they will come June. Rather what teachers hope to see is students demonstrating their strengthening knowledge and skill sets.

Students can demonstrate progress on their mocks with these efforts over the holidays:

  • Focusing specifically on the topics the mocks will cover

  • Reviewing mark schemes and assessment objectives for the tasks at hand

  • Developing checklists for methods to be applied, and expectations to be met

  • Revising and applying targets from recent assessments

  • Engaging with practice questions under timed conditions

Where students can show teachers they are working to improve incrementally, this tracks them on an upward trajectory towards their final exams. On that learning curve is where they need to be – not at the end of it. Mastery is gained progressively, and this mindset can help relieve some of the pressure students feel in applying themselves over the holidays.

A healthy balance

Our understanding of how to create a healthy work-life balance is improving. We should also pay due attention to how students can have a healthier and happier revision experience – one that prioritises their wellbeing. Over the festive period, we should encourage them to intersperse work with rest and holiday cheer.

A beneficial method students can apply is time blocking: building revision blocks as well as relaxation and celebration blocks into their holiday schedule. The moments students have to spend time with their families should feel earned and unfettered by the unpleasant feeling of procrastination. If work times are honoured, rest times will feel lighter and more restorative.

Within a revision time block, students can break hours down into shorter periods of more intense focus. The Pomodoro Technique offers a useful method for time management: 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a short break of 5 minutes. If distractions – such as mobile phones and the Internet – are eliminated for those short times, one hour can achieve 50 minutes of deeper work, in two manageable intervals.

Revision now goes a long way

A final note for students: Good revision for mocks is revision for final exams. These holidays present an opportunity to do the kind of work that will serve in the months ahead. In that way, holiday revision can be satisfying and give them a merrier mindset. As always, Oxford Tutors is more than happy to help with our team of expert tutors so do get in touch below if you are interested.

— The Editorial Team (