Mock exams are like an annual trip to the mechanic


Across the next two weeks, our senior cohorts in Years 10 and 12 are taking part in examinations for all subjects. They are not attending classes, but instead are undergoing a full suite of mock tests in preparation for their actual summative examinations that take place across April and May this year. Oftentimes examinations are thought of only in terms of the score that is reported afterwards, but it is important for teachers, parents and students to understand that the final score is only one part of the purpose of sitting examinations.

According to the IBO1, The International Baccalaureate® (IB) assesses student work as direct evidence of achievement against the stated goals of the Diploma Programme (DP) courses.

DP assessment procedures measure the extent to which students have mastered advanced academic skills in fulfilling these goals, for example:

  • analysing and presenting information
  • evaluating and constructing arguments
  • solving problems creatively.

Basic skills are also assessed, including:

  • retaining knowledge
  • understanding key concepts
  • applying standard methods. 

In addition to academic skills, DP assessment encourages an international outlook and intercultural skills, wherever appropriate.

Student results are determined by performance against set standards, not by each student’s position in the overall rank order.

Here are some things that a final number doesn’t tell you:

  • if the student is being affected by something outside of school
  • if the student has not revised the correct content
  • if the student has knowledge but has not committed to their revision process
  • if the student is simply having a bad day

Teachers need to marry the marks a student may get in a mock assessment with what they have seen in class because sometimes the results from an exam do not match the knowledge we see during our lessons.

It is part of a teacher’s role to know when a student hasn’t revised and when a student has revised and simply has had a bad test. I have had many conversations with students that began with the question “Describe what was happening on the day of the exam?”.

One of the important things to understand about a mock assessment is that it is a ‘check in’. We see the results and we ask the questions ‘Why?’ and ‘Where to from here?’. If a student is achieving strong marks, they know that their strategies for schoolwork and revision are working. If a student does not receive the marks desired, or is surprised or disappointed by their result, it is a good opportunity to reflect on everything that may have contributed to the score and aim to change something for the future. In this way, mock exams are the annual trip to the mechanic. It is better to have routine check ups to ensure smooth running, than to wait until you break down at the side of the road.

I wish good luck to the Year 10 and Year 12 students currently undergoing their annual check-up. Remember to study hard, focus your energy and take care of your mind and body as well.



2 Picture retrieved on January 16 from