ACG Parnell College provides unrivalled support for its Seniors in the lead-up to their end-of-year Cambridge Curriculum examinations, and mock exams are a critical part of that preparation.
A touchstone for students to evaluate their knowledge and understanding, mock exams pinpoint any learning gaps and determine which strategies each student needs to employ to ensure peak success in their final exams.
For Year 13 student William Xu, last month’s online mock exams were “priceless”, providing clear evidence of where he needs to focus his efforts before his final exams.
“Mocks are a great tool as they act as the final checkpoint for any weak links in my study plan,” explains William. “This time around, they made me realise that I hadn’t put enough emphasis on Chemistry Paper 5, the ‘Planning, Analysis and Evaluation’ aspect of the syllabus.”
And although they were conducted online – adding a new dimension to an already challenging process – William says the experience was both rewarding and a surprisingly easy adjustment to make.
“The online mock exams ran extremely smoothly. Teachers made sure that we practised the upload process in advance, so by the time we got to the real online exams, the process of taking photos and uploading them was already quite familiar.
“I actually found online exams less stressful than having them on campus. For one, I didn’t need to commute to and from school, which meant more sleep. I found the home environment quite comforting, and I could even sit my exams in my PJs! Usually, I’ll also do a small ‘get in the zone’ routine before an exam and being at home meant doing that was much more convenient.”
Fellow Year 13 student Julianne Kim felt quite apprehensive in the lead-up to the exams but ultimately believes the insights she gained were invaluable.
“I was devastated when we learnt that Auckland would go into lockdown a week before our mock exams,” says Julianne. “I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of online exams, simply because we were not used to the idea of looking at the screen and writing our answers on the paper.”
But although she had to navigate a few hiccups along the way (“I experienced difficulties turning on my camera at the start of my chemistry exam so started a few minutes late”), Julianne admits the exams went incredibly well.
“Mocks are, and always have been, a valuable and crucial part of learning, not only to check our progress but also to give us time to reflect on our work and understanding of the subject. In addition, they gave me a renewed perspective of my strengths and weaknesses!
“Though they were conducted online, they ran smoothly because teachers spent countless hours assigning us practice mocks exams and demonstrating how to use Microsoft Lens. They marked hundreds of exams online, giving us constructive feedback on how we could improve and prepare for the final exams. There’s no doubt that the mock exams have helped prepare not only me but all ACG students for Cambridge and university.”
In fact, as Julianne admits, the online experience provided a few unexpected benefits.
“Completing the exams online highlighted the fact that I tend to pay less attention to extrapolating data and calculation-type questions when I can’t physically circle or underline the key information online. I learnt to take more time to carefully read the question, asking myself what steps I need to take before I solve it. In a future that could well be intermittently disrupted by Covid-19, these reflections are invaluable.”
And in a final show of her gratitude, Julianne has this message for her ACG teachers.
“Thank you for prioritising our learning ahead of anything else, even during extreme circumstances. Thank you for looking after our wellbeing and for being so kind and caring to each one of us. Thank you for providing us with the best learning that we could ever get. Thank you for reassuring and encouraging us, saying that everything would work out smoothly when we were anxious. It would have been impossible for us to wade through the lockdown and online mock exams without your help.”