The name ‘Prelims’ is misleading. ‘Pre’ means before, so why worry about something that comes before? The answer is simple. Because they count. Read the 5 reasons why Prelims are so important and the benefits they bring, so that you can fully prepare your child.
1. Prelims are Excellent Practise
What better way to get real practice in something that is so important? Prelims will be held in the same place as the real exams. They will be held in exam conditions. Your child may have experienced exam conditions in the classroom before, but not like this. Their bags will be placed in another room. Their phones will be placed somewhere secure so they are not taken into the exam room. They will sit in a large hall, in alphabetical, exam order. They will have a desk to themselves. There will be invigilators. There will be a copy of a previous exam paper. There will be a clock on the wall so they can check the time. They will be left to handle the exam, on their own, with no one to give advice. You can’t replicate these conditions anywhere else.
Your child will have practice working to time. They will have to keep an eye on the clock and ensure they are using everything they have been told regarding exam technique. This will inform them and their teachers how well they work in exam conditions and what may need to work on as a result.
That practice will be as near to the real experience as the school can make it. Your child should ensure the same by revising and preparing as well as possible so the result is as fair and informative as possible (more on this later).
2. Prelims Count
Not in the same way as the sitting Highers. The papers aren't marked by an exam board examiner (although your child’s teacher may indeed be an examiner). The results are not official. However, they are still important. If your child cannot sit the summer Higher exam, the Prelim (amongst other evidence) will be taken into consideration because ‘These are likely to be the most reliable indicator of performance’. Read what the Scottish Qualifications Authority say about it here.
If you wish to appeal in the summer, as part of the evidence that your school provides when making the appeal, the Prelims will be taken into consideration. So it is vitally important that they use this opportunity to do as well as possible.
Prelims also allow schools to predict the grade your child will achieve in the final exam. This can then be used to apply for courses in Advanced Highers or other further study.
3. Prelims Help Long Term Knowledge
Revision undertaken for the Prelims will help with long term knowledge. Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve shows how we forget things over time when there is no attempt to retain it.
By revising for the Prelims your child will increase their chances of retaining that information needed for their final exam.
What they revise now will have a better chance of entering their long term memory. What they revise at this stage will be easier to recall in the summer.
That’s not to say that all knowledge will be filed away neatly in their long term memory, but recalling it again, before the summer, will be easier because it won’t be the first, second or even third time they have looked at it.
4. Prelims Reduce Stress
By sitting their Prelims your child will gain confidence about what to do during the exam period in the summer.
They will have confidence and familiarity with the settings, the procedure and the structure of their exams.
This will take enormous stress and worry away and allow your child to only focus on what they need to know.
5. Prelims Identify Gaps
If your child commits themselves to studying for their prelims then the results will be informative, both to you, themselves and their teacher. It will act as a true reflection of what work needs to be done to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be.
There are then 3 months remaining to work on building that bridge. All stakeholders will know the size of the gap and can work together on bridging it. It will identify any topics that need attention. It will identify any exam techniques that still need practice, all at a point where there is still time to do something about it.
So, Prelims may not end in a piece of paper with a result that your child takes with them through the rest of their life, but they are pivotal in helping your child be proud of that piece of paper when it arrives in the summer.