As Mr Jones suggested to you to in last week’s assembly the year is shaped like a mountain – we climb it in Terms One and Two – and then we descend it in Terms Three and Four. Something that is characteristic of the last half of the year is however how quickly it goes. So before you know it you’ll be sitting in this hall listening to me talk about being in Year 12.
On the way down the mountain we have external exams. And leading up to them is the school exams, now less than 3 weeks away. The school exams are often referred to – inaccurately – as mock exams. I want to challenge that definition right now and make a case for why they are important and that they need to be taken seriously.
Within the school exams there are some actual internals that you might be sitting for some of your courses. To find this out you need to be talking to you subject teachers. You need to know what is being assessed in each of your exams. Are they internals or practice externals? How many? Find out and be confident about what you are walking into.
- Important for Practice
Fundamentally, the school exams offer an opportunity to practice. This is vital because as goes the cliche we all know – practice makes perfect! You cannot expect to master a skill without practising – and you simply can’t pretend you are going to master sitting an exam at the end of the year without practising too. Y9 and Y10 subjects incorporated exams into their programmes for this very reason and the school exams are just the next rung on the ladder that we are climbing.
Should you write an essay in English which represents your level of understanding and where you are at – then you will give your teacher the opportunity to give you the next steps that you need. This is different from just winging it, where the feedback you get won’t necessarily help you to get to your potential. Putting in effort gives you the best chance of getting the feedback that will help you make significant progress.
- Prize giving
Your school exams count towards the overall subject rankings that determines who gets the acknowledged at prize giving. Students who are ranked in the top three of each subject will be invited to prize giving as well as though who are in the top 10 or so for big subjects like English and Maths. You results in these school exams matter.
- Derived Grades
Finally, if you find that at the end of the year you are unable to sit the exam. This might be because of illness or bereavement – then you will need to apply for a derived grade. This means the grades you got in the school exams are the ones that will count. This happens every year to a surprisingly number of students. So it helps to do well in the school exams so this does not come back to haunt you.
Today I’m not just here to convince you that the school exams are important – what I want to do is touch on how you get there and how to approach studying. Once again, I’m going to take you back to the blog. In Y9 and Y10 it acted as a study hub with information about each exam you sat and also a huge bunch of information about how to study. These links are still relevant:
- Study Skills One: Planning Your Revision
- Study Skills Two: Study Spaces
- Study Skills Three: How to Study
- Study Skills Four: In the Exam Advice
- Dean’s Assembly from last year on HOW to study
Specific tips like mind maps and mnemonics (shared by Bryan, Taane, Celeste and Natasha) will be expanded upon in future blogposts where we’ll take a look and some other study strategies. The underlying thing there is that your revision needs to be active. You cannot just read through your notes and expect it to stick. You must do something with the information – so pick up the pencil, pen, highlighter, felt tips, whatever – just be active with the information that you are processing.
Overall, be prepared for the exams.
- Know what externals/internals you are sitting
- Know what you are being assessed on
- Know what you need to study
- Know what you need to bring
If you KNOW all these things you’ll feel so much more confident and less anxious about this onslaught of assessment that NCEA provides. Bear in mind that we are not here just to prepare you for exams, we are here to support you too. So remember all the things that I’ve talked with you about in terms of looking after your well-being, and the messages Ms Montgomery has shared with you too.
On a final note, I’d like to mention that continued work is going on with people in the Year group to help them reach their goals – whether it be 80 Level One credits or 50 Excellence credits. If you want help tracking yourself and making sure you are going to be successful with your goal.
Approach your Form Teacher, your mentor or me to sit down and look at the picture for the rest of the year. With some students now I’ve done a credit map, looking at how many more credits are left in the year, which subject do they sit in, how many need to be at E/M etc to achieve their goals. I would urge you to be proactive about this and know what you need to do to be successful.