Mock season is upon us. People everywhere are drowning in papers. 

Amidst all this marking I asked the above question on Twitter, with regards what people say to the students when they are lining up waiting to go into their exam. The original question was prompted by my gaffer but it’s also something that I’ve joked about for years – usually HOD’s stand in front of the year group and start their little speech by bringing their hands together in front of them and saying something along the lines of “right guys, this is paper 1 (2 or 3) and for this …” and I’m genuinely not convinced that all the students are focussed on what is being said – mainly through nerves I suspect. 

I didn’t originally intend on the answers being brought together for a blog post but then I thought “why not?” some of them are ace – so thank you everyone that replied. I also had a thought driving into school last week, just before our year 11s were about to start their mocks … but before I share I’ve categorised the Twitter responses below into general exam advice: And also calculator paper specific advice: 

The ones I particularly like are from Lindsey and Vanessa – personally I want them to know that I believe they can do it:  

Anyway … back to my idea. I was thinking about the fact that our students are a large year group and they line up outside where the acoustics aren’t brilliant for a long motivational talk (if that’s what your intention is) and I thought about the part of “love actually” with the message on the cards. If you haven’t seen it you must!!

So, together with my gaffer we agreed what the key messages would be and I made some hand written posters to hold up with my able assistant (Robin Williams) and unveiled the message as the gaffer spoke (It took one to hold them and the other to unveil because I’d done them on paper and not card … it was VERY last minute!) but it worked really well!! Have I said how last minute it was? Now that I’ve said it I’ll show you the original sheets … not pretty but they were being used in conjunction with my gaffer speaking to the kids. 

Because I was “winging it” with paper one I made sure I was a bit more prepared for paper 2 and got them printed onto A3 paper (different messages to the first paper) and as it turned out I ended up just using the “cards” with no verbal prompts – having 200 kids looking up and nodding when it’s ok to move to the next card was awesome. For paper 3 I’m getting them laminated as paper is a little susceptible to the windy conditions! 

Because we want to use them again I’ve remade my hand written originals and to give you a flavour you can see the messages that are aimed at paper 1, paper 2 and paper 3 I’ve shown them below – you may have your own ideas about what the key messages should be and they may well be different to the below but maybe consider the way it is delivered. Would love to hear from you if you give this a try!. 

PAPER 1 (redone from original hand written ones)