AN EXAMS dress rehearsal of monumental proportions was held at Portsmouth College as hundreds of students shunned their Easter break to tackle mock papers.
In total, 850 boys and girls at the college sat 90 AS and A-level papers, 15 GCSE tests and attended 40 workshops over an intense three-day period.
They were supported by 165 teachers and staff who invigilated exams and managed timetables.
With the real exams less than two months away, the college is doing everything it can to boost the chances of academic success in an increasingly tough economic and higher education climate.
Shane Malloy, 19, sat AS-level mocks in maths, computing, photography and took part in a workshop for his creative media Btec course.
He said: ‘The experience was very rewarding.
‘I’ve identified areas I need to work on.
‘I want to join the police force but I need to get the grades first.’
Jessica Sharp, 16, hopes to get top grades in English, maths, economics and graphics A-levels to read law.
She said: ‘The mocks helped focus people’s minds – they’ve made us revise with a purpose.’
The college ran a similar experiment last year, and their pass rates rose by three per cent for A-levels and five per cent for AS-levels.
Assistant principal Simon Barrable said: ‘It’s a big operation but we decided to repeat it because it boosted our results considerably.
‘While it’s not as stressful as the real thing the students take it very seriously. We set up real exam rooms in the sports hall and it was all properly invigilated.’
But it wasn’t all serious – as everyone who turned up was rewarded with an Easter egg.
Principal Steve Frampton applauded the 85 per cent turnout. He said: ‘It shows the students value what we’re doing.
‘The eggs are just a small way of thanking staff and students for making such a tremendous effort.’
Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, has written to education secretary Michael Gove and universities minister David Willetts to tell them about it.
He said: ‘What a great example to set by staff giving who are giving up their holiday to give young people a better chance of passing their exams as well as by the students themselves.’