Practice Makes Perfect: Why Mock Exams Are No Laughing Matter

Article by Kody Tinga

You may have heard of the news going around school, or even seen seniors hurriedly studying in the libraries trying to cram even more information into their brains. Maybe you have even heard of that dreaded word going around, how they are meant to be the first indicator of one’s readiness for the final IB exams in May, but that doesn’t really answer the question: what are mock exams?

Mock exams were held the second and third weeks of March, beginning on March 8 and continuing on until Thursday, March 15. Each day features mock exams for different subjects, so as to space out the variety of subjects that will be holding exams on each day, although all of the foreign language classes will be holding their mocks on the final day of testing. While not an exact replica of the exams in May, the purpose of the mock exams is to help students have an indicator of how they may perform in a similar environment, with two years of content to cover in the possibility that it may show up on the exam.

Seniors Dana T., Janel P., and Tusshara N. all agree that the mock exams are important, if more for a personal progress check than anything else. “I believe that mock exams are important because they serve as an important checking point in this hectic time of the year. Being tested on the subject material of the last two years gives students the opportunity to check how confident they feel with the content in each class and also to assess how effective their current revision strategies are,” Tusshara said.

Just because they have all stated that the mocks have been useful, however, does not mean that they all believe that the entire implementation of the whole system has been wholly perfect, however. One common grievance was the scheduling of the exams themselves, with administration trying to find out how to gracefully slot in over 15 classes at both Standard and Higher level with only 6 exam days.  “A number of seniors take Econ + Bio/ Phys, which happened to be scheduled on the very first day of mocks. Given that the next day was the non-negotiable Math + Lit/ LangLit day, Econ + Bio/Phys kids would have had to take 4 mock exams in 2 days,” Janel said. “So we asked for at least one of our mock exams to be rescheduled to a later date, and admin thankfully rescheduled Bio/ Phys to Tuesday next week.”

Another common issue was the fact that mock exams seemed to be scheduled at an awkward time of the year for some students, with homework assignments and study times sometimes clashing with one another. Dana spoke in detail about this, saying, “I wish teachers respected the fact that students have to study for their mock exams, and will most likely prioritize studying for their mock exams over turning in homework.”

But, just because the mock exams seem so terrifying, does not mean they need to be so, and when asked about any tips they could offer those about to take the same exams in the years to come, each were eager to offer their advice. Janel emphasized the importance of organizing your classwork. “Remember that the IB is a 2-year marathon…so it’s really important to have all your resources and review material organized in documents and folders, or whatever way that works for you.”

Tusshara, on the other hand, focused on how communicating with those around you was vital to keeping balance. “I think that honest communication is very helpful in trying to manage schoolwork. This principle can entail being honest in communicating with your teachers what your areas of struggle are, proactively letting your counselors know if something is bothering you, or even at home concerning how aware your parents are of your stress levels.”

Finally, Dana echoed some of Tusshara’s ideas on communication, but also added prioritization as a key point. “Communicate with your teachers about deadlines that are realistic for you, and do your best to really be productive during your study halls.”

With these pieces of advice in mind, maybe now it is possible to see the importance of mock exams, and how they can help focus students on specific areas, especially as final exams come up. Fortunately for this year’s seniors, yesterday marked their last day of mock exams. On behalf of all those at ISM, good job to all those who sat for an exam this week, and best of luck in your final IB exams!