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How to survive and succeed for year 11s and 13s

A year ago, year 11s and 13s thought they knew basically how their year would pan out: school, mocks, prom, exams, long summer and then results day. They could picture the sweat trickling down their brow as they sat in a sweaty exam hall in June... Of course this did not work out the way that they had always been told and they experienced a summer of stress and confusion as the exam regulator changed the boundaries and expectations repeatedly.

The hardest part for the year groups that sat A-levels and GCSEs in 2020 was the complete chaos and the fact that many students had not been prepared for what happened.

In many ways, that puts you, this year's year 11s and 13s at an advantage. Whatever life throws at you in the next 12 months, you CAN plan for it. Yes, you may have lost 6 months of your education in an extremely important year, but don't forget, so has everyone else!

So first let's think through the scenarios for the next 12 months:

Scenario 1: the dream

The plan is still that you sit exams next year as planned through your whole education, perhaps a little later in July (bye, bye long summer, I'm afraid). After the fiasco of exam results day this year, it is unlikely the government want a repeat and, as the current government particularly have a strong preference for formal exams, this will be the aim for the government, exam boards and teachers if it can be helped.

Scenario 2: teacher assessment is back

There have been reports in the papers in recent days that unions are pushing for the government to announce that exams will be scrapped and that students will be assessed using teacher assessment. They want this announcement by October to give you lot and the teachers chance to put something fair in place. This is because until the pandemic is over, no one can absolutely 100% say that exams can go ahead next summer. You may cheer at the thought of having your teacher assess you, but remember this is not a perfect solution even if you do think your teacher loves you! There are CONSEQUENCES that we will discuss below.

Scenario 3: the nightmare that doesn't have to be a nightmare

This scenario is what scenario 2 is trying to avoid. In this case you would be told all year that you are sitting an exam, only for a Covid spike to hit in the spring/ summer and exams to be cancelled again, much like last summer. No one wants this, but short of scrapping exams now to give everyone certainty, this eventuality cannot be completely thrown aside.

So what do you do? How do you in such uncertain times, make sure that you do the best that you can whichever scenario transpires? Here are my tips on how to survive and succeed your exam year:

1) Every second counts

In case of scenario 2 or 3 (ie teacher assessed grades) you need to make every second count. This should always be the case, but we all know that some students leave learning and revision to the last minute. This is just not an option this year. You need to impress your teacher with your work ethic and quality of work from day one. And no one (the other students included) have any time for misbehaviour; they have just missed 6 months of their education... Progress matters! So make sure that you are showing your best work as soon as is possible this academic year. Many of my students made progress within a couple of weeks of attending their lessons with me and it is this that has got them the grades they needed in 2020.

2) Charm your teachers!

What if your teachers are the difference between success and failure? Would that make you treat them any differently? If so, now is the time to make that change. Teachers are professionals and I would hope they would not give out grades based on personal preference. I certainly wouldn't! However, if they were asked to rank students who would get a 4 at GCSE or a C at A-level, they might rank that immature, lazy or disruptive pupil at the bottom and the harder working, conscientious student further up when really their is little difference in their ability level. It might be that your ranking is what gets you the grade or loses you the grade! So ditch the attitude and go on the charm offensive!

3) Mocks matter

Every year students have been told that mocks might just matter. Every year students have rolled their eyes. 2020 was the year that this came into fruition. Mocks had a very real impact on the results that teachers input to the exam boards and therefore on their final grades. This year, I would expect every single year 11 or 13 to be revising hard for mock exams as if they are the real thing. Revision should be starting as if that November mock is your final mock. So when should you start your revision? NOW!

4) Don't ditch the exam technique

Let's not forget that the most likely outcome is still that you will be sitting exams in 2021. Therefore, exam technique is massive. Complete past papers, get tips from your teachers or join one of my classes, online or face to face or my exam marking programme. Details are below.

Face to face lessons and resit classes in Oxenhope: call 07743378429.

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