It’s nearly time… for the dreaded mock exams! For every Year 12, mocks are the final hurdle before WACE and graduation. Think of it as a ‘dress rehearsal’ before the big show. That means pulling out all the stops – study hard and don’t ‘save’ any resources for after mocks. Once you get to your final WACE exams, it will be way less stressful because you’ve done it before, and have even had an extra couple of weeks to fine-tune your skills!
Mocks are just like your first round of exams in semester one. The only difference is that now they test both Units 3 and 4. In some subjects, like human biology, they may be skewed towards Unit 4 as Unit 3 was already tested in your first round of exams (don’t let this affect your preparation though, because it won’t be the same in WACE!)
How to prepare
Most schools have a couple of weeks after term 3 ends before mock exams begin. So make the most of it!
Past WACE exams are your most valuable resource. Reading over the examiner’s reports is also super useful (especially for English). They let you know what examiners want as well as what they DON’T want.
Your preparation strategies will vary from subject to subject; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Here are some of my strategies for each subject ‘type’:
Whether you’re doing apps, methods, spec, or a combination of them, math is definitely something you should be continuously studying wayyyy before mocks. A lot of the topics build from previous topics, so forgetting those early skills can cause a lot of problems down the road.
I continuously studied throughout all of term 3 using this strategy:
- Complete a practice exam every weekend, under timed conditions. I did a Methods exam every Saturday and a Spec exam every Sunday. (You can simply skip questions on topics you haven’t covered in class yet)
- Take note of every single question you didn’t get full marks for
Once preparation time for mocks comes around, you will have done at least 9-10 exams! Now you can focus on fine-tuning your skills:
- Complete all of the questions you skipped
- Redo all of the questions you didn’t get full marks for – repeat until you get them all 100% correct
- Complete all of the remaining exams
- Redo particularly tricky exams
Content-heavy science subjects (like human bio and bio) are also subjects you should continuously study throughout the term. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should do a 3 hour exam every week (although you certainly can!) It’s about giving yourself a good knowledge base so that once term 3 ends, you can spend the time before mocks doing only practice exams instead of relearning everything or writing notes.
My study strategy for human bio and chem looked like this:
- Every weekend, condense everything you learned in class that week into ‘good notes’ (put it in your own words and make it as concise as possible with lots of diagrams)!
- Create flashcards from your notes and review them daily. I use Anki which has a spaced repetition system. The idea is to look at a certain number of cards everyday and the easier a card is, the longer the interval is before you see it again. It’s really useful as you can avoid cramming hundreds of cards the day before a test.
- Drill your weakest sections – e.g for human bio, do 1-2 extended response questions each week.
- In the period before mocks, complete as many practice exams you can find under timed conditions! Take note of all of the questions you don’t get full marks for and redo them until they’re 100% right.
For the more math-y science subjects (physics and chem), you could also incorporate some of the math strategies mentioned above. For example, you could complete a chem extended response section each week, as calculation questions tend to be more common there.
English can be tricky to study for, since it’s not as straightforward as math or science. Plus, in Year 12, you probably won’t have time to write out full-length essays everyday! Here’s how I studied for each section of the exam:
- Comprehending: answer a question under timed conditions (20 min), get feedback, repeat
- Responding: choose a random question and write an essay ‘scaffold’ – thesis, then topic sentence and evidence for each body paragraph. Repeat for as many questions as possible. Turn a few scaffolds into full-length essays for feedback.
- Composing: read as many different types of texts as possible! Practice writing texts and get feedback. Play to your strengths - e.g if persuasive texts are your thing, practice writing about a topic that can apply to many different questions (like climate change) as a ‘safe option’ for exams
For my full guide to studying for English exams, read this article.
For humanities subjects, you could mix together the strategies for English and science:
- Every week, condense what you learned into ‘good notes’ and make flashcards. Review flashcards daily.
- Instead of writing full-length essays, write essay scaffolds
- Drill your weakest section - e.g for Religion & Life, you could answer every WACE short answer question about ‘freedom’ that you can find
Putting it all together
To summarise, this is what your study schedule might look like in the lead-up to mocks. Feel free to replace it with your own subjects, switch it up and see what works for you.
Throughout term 3
- Drill a weak section every Friday (e.g complete one human bio extended response Q, write a Modern History essay scaffold)\
- Practice exam every Saturday (e.g Methods)
- Practice exam every Sunday (e.g Spec or science)
- Every weekend, condense what you learned that week into ‘good notes’ and make Anki flashcards (for science or humanities)
- Review flashcards daily
In the 2-4 weeks before mocks
- Keep reviewing flashcards daily
- Practice exam every morning (e.g math or science). Once all exams are done, complete any skipped Qs/redo wrong Qs/redo tricky exams
- English/Humanities exercise every afternoon (e.g write 2-3 English essay scaffolds, answer one English comprehending Q, answer one Economics extended response Q)
Best of luck with your mock exams!
Written by Jhermayne Ubalde. Jhermayne tutors Chemistry and Human Biology ATAR and is currently pursuing medicine at UWA. You can view her profile here and request her as a tutor.