Sunday, 29 January 2017

A New Series about Exam Tips -- How Many Mock Exams?

Another common question I get asked is about how many mock papers a student should do in preparation for the exam.


Work, work, work ... but best?

The answer is slightly complicated by the need to practise questions vs practising a whole paper.

Ever since CIE changed its spec starting June 2015, the papers before then aren't very useful for taking as a complete mock. However, they still offer a number of great opportunities to practise certain skills that you find in the current style of exam.

For example, I think it's great to do a lot of practice with the old Question 3s from Paper 2. There won't be 15 facts to find as there are in the current papers - maybe only 7 or 8 -- but practising the skill of identifying "salient facts" continues to be relevant, and not just for Question 3, but even for Question 1.

I know you'll probably want to do some Question 3s for the new spec, too, though, so how do you choose which ones to do only in part, and which as a whole?

Well, each exam period, there are three versions of the exam that are used around the world, to take time zones into account. The numbers are 0500-21, 0500-22, and 0500-23, and knowing this, you could decide to keep, say, the 0500-21s as your mock papers, and use the other two for practising in part.

This will give you 4 papers (summer and winter from 2015 and 2016) to take as mock exams. If you have been practising the separate questions and have identified time limits for each of them, then four mocks will probably be enough.

Remember that mock papers is only part of your revision strategies. Copywork, narration, reading lots of non-fiction like newspapers, and of course, writing, writing, writing, so you can get your writing speed up to the level for a timed exam.

Keep up with more blog posts on tips and tricks so you can see where these other revision strategies are discussed. Subscribe to the blog or "like" the Facebook page so you can get notified when new posts are published.

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