Making the most out of your mock exams
For many students, attempting mock assessments is a standard part of their revision process and is somewhat of a formality, however ensuring you utilise these assessments to the fullest is a crucial factor in achieving a positive result in your live exam itself. In this article our tutors share their suggestions and tips on how you can really get the most out of your mock assessments.
Complete your mocks
This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but we observe students who attempt live assessments without completing any mocks, the reasons this may be the case can vary from busy schedules to a lack of confidence putting people off completing this work. It goes without saying that sitting your live exam without attempting any mock assessments puts you at a huge disadvantage and greatly limits the potential of your work. There is a clear and significant trend between students attempting mock assessments and achieving competency in the real exam, ensure you put some time aside to sit your mocks, this gives you time to understand the structuring and presentation of the questions you will be facing, and also allows you to reinforce areas of weakness in your knowledge. A message we tutors often relay to students is that making mistakes in your mocks allows you to ensure the same mistake does not happen again in the live assessment.
Producing your own work
When attempting your mock assessments, another common issue we come across when marking work is copy/pasted answers, this relates to the written sections within the relevant units. We have observed students who will simply paste the model answer word for word and submit it as their own work, and others who will use the model answer, but alter a handful of words or the structure of some sentences in an attempt to make the work look more like their own. In short, neither of these methods pass by unnoticed by tutors and we are able to frequently and reliably spot when this has occurred (Don’t forget, we use the model answers ourselves as a scheme to mark your work!). The reasons this may happen again often come down to a lack of time, or lack of confidence in ones ability to produce good written work, but the critical flaw with this method is that you are heavily restricting the amount of feedback your tutor can offer you. As tutors we aim to support you in improving your own written work and developing it to a high standard, if the written work submitted is not a true representation of your own writing, then we cannot help reinforce the areas which need attention. Remember, you will not have the luxury of writing your answers this way in your live assessment.
Attempt as many mocks as possible
When it comes to completing mock assessments, the more the merrier! The mocks are available at your disposal and it is important you take full advantage of these useful resources. Completing multiple mock assessments provides you with exposure to the different questions that can appear in each task and allows you to familiarise yourself to different layouts and styles of questions you may come up against in your live assessment, the AAT produce 2 mock assessments for every unit on all levels which should be completed alongside the mocks available in your materials, just as there is a high correlation between students attempting a mock assessment and passing their live exam, there is also a trend of students achieving higher scores after completing multiple mocks in their revisions.
Another common but critical pitfall our tutors notice is the timings in which mock assessments are completed, a well-constructed study plan gives time for the relevant mock assessments to be completed within a reasonable time without cramming multiple assessments into a short space of time. We are all human, and education experts are constantly probing into cognitive load (how much information our brains can process before giving up) trying to better understand the concept, completing mock assessments is hugely beneficial, completing multiple mocks back-to-back, or within a few hours is not. Students sometimes fall into the habit of cramming too much into too little time, two mocks done patiently and correctly with time taken to understand your feedback is more valuable than completing 5 mock assessments in a day, not taking the time to truly focus on and understand your work. Sometimes students feel they have no other option than to do this due to time restraints and other commitments, speaking to your tutor who can help you plan out your studies to minimise this impact.
A common thought shared by many tutors is that completing an assessment is only half of the challenge faced by students, to truly make the most out of your mock assessments understanding the feedback given to you and putting it into practice moving forwards is a tremendously effective way of lifting your work to the next level. For calculation based questions, take the time to understand why your answer was different to the correct answer, was there a figure you missed? A figure you forgot to include? A rounding error? Taking the time to find these mistakes allows you to further your knowledge to ensure the mistake is not made again. For written work, compare your writing to the model answers, can you identify the strengths in your writing alongside the areas you can expand upon to grab those precious extra marks? Utilising feedback effectively links in with some of the crucial points discussed earlier in this article, producing written answers which is copied/pasted from model answers yields ineffective feedback, submitting your own written work means the subsequent feedback allows you to improve your work moving forwards. Equal to this, cramming in mock assessments dampens the effectiveness of your feedback, a common sight we see with student who are pressed for time is submitting multiple mocks with written work in a short space of time, this is not ideal. Wait for your feedback to arrive, take on board this information and then complete your next mock with a new approach to your work at your disposal.
Time constraints in an assessment is often a key problem faced by learners, and proves to be a tricky area to overcome. In the AAT’s examiners report students are provided with a breakdown of each task which includes how long students are expected to take on each question, this is based off a simple calculation of marks available against the total length of the exam. While this information is helpful it should serve as a guide and not be followed as gospel. We observe student panicking when attempting mock assessments due to the fact that “The report states it should take 20 minutes to complete this question and I took 22!” The simple way of dealing with this issue is to gain an understand of your own time management, you may find certain tasks take slightly longer than average for you to complete, while other tasks you are able to work through much faster, attempting various mock assessments allows you to understand your own timings and essentially play to your strengths.
For help or advice on your AAT study, please get in touch with us today.
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