Pre-mock knowledge tests are ESSENTIAL!

Summative tests are important, but the very nature of them being based on a range from the domain of knowledge makes it difficult to be certain exactly where a student has gone wrong. If for example you receive a student’s work and it has little content in an answer, is it because they didn’t know the knowledge needed to answer the question, or was it a lack of ability to articulate the knowledge, or did they freeze under the pressure?

One way to eliminate one of the issues is to give your students pre-mock knowledge tests. If students haven’t self-diagnosed, made possible with a revision checklist, then these tests will highlight to all before they go into the mock if content knowledge is lacking, allowing you to better diagnose issues presented in the mock, and to provide more meaningful feedback accordingly.


The questions should cover the range you know the students need to know. I ensure that key content needed for the mock is definitely in the knowledge tests (as much as I can that is). This content comes from the knowledge organisers that I’ve created for my classes, ensuring that as much as possible, my students have access to the content in multiple places. The questions are also be taken directly, copied and pasted, from the flash cards I’ve created for my classes, created out of fear of them revising the wrong things; an issue I wrote about here.

Questions can be a mixture of quotes, storyline, context, vocab and importantly, and often overlooked in such preparation, grammar. Considering punctuation counts for quite a few marks, it is important not to let it slide at this stage of revision. There are multiple ways to design the tests. Tests can utilise much of the insight of educators such as Daisy Christodoulou, where multiple choice questions are designed to test if depth of understanding is apparent by having two of the answers likely, but only one completely accurate. The tests of course serve as a retrieval practice, which ultimately will assist your students in preparing for the mocks. Often, revision sessions can be wasted suffering from a lack of direction, as suggested by Adam Boxer, so time is better spent completing knowledge tests. They can also be marked together as s group, reducing impact on teacher time.

Here’s an example of one i’ve designed for Macbeth.

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger, and follow this blog for more English resources, and general education advice and discussions.


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