Supporting your teenager at Exam Time

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If we were to rewind the clock back 18 years… (Wow, is it really 18 years? Incredible.) you’d see a teenage me, studiously working at my desk in my bedroom, revising for my GCSEs.

I don’t often talk about my own GCSE experience to students, although I probably should, because I was pretty successful, with mostly As and As in my results. Now, current Year 11 are the last year who will receive A-G grades, and this time next year, we’ll be talking about Grades 1-9. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, the Easter holidays are the perfect time to start revising. Many schools have started their Easter breaks, and some will have them over the next few weeks. If your child has exams this summer, now is the perfect time to support them with their revision.

Here are my tips:

For students: 

Make a plan. You’ll need to know your exam dates, an overview of each paper, and how much free time you have. Aim to do a couple of hours each day.

Get organised. Find out where you’ve got gaps in your knowledge, and get the notes from someone else. Better still, ask your teacher to go over it with you.

Practise, practise, practise! Past papers are fantastic for this. Your teacher should be happy to mark the odd extra paper or practice question for you.

Make sure you’re balanced in your approach. Personally, I was worried about Science and History, so I prioritised those subjects, but made sure that every subject was covered. (For what it’s worth, I got A*s in Science and History.)

Get rid of distractions. I couldn’t listen to music with vocals, so I played Classical Music – I also hoped it would help me with my Music GCSE. I didn’t even have a phone then, so I can’t imagine what that is like. However, there are some fantastic resources out there. I use YouTube clips a lot in my teaching, but make sure you watch them actively, making notes and taking it on board, rather than letting it wash over you.

For parents: 

Provide the physical resources. A clear space to work, ideally a desk in a quiet room. Necessary stationery. Revision guides.

Be an advocate for your child. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your child’s teacher if you think your child needs more support or guidance.

Be aware of the pressure. Increasingly, I am seeing more and more students being diagnosed with anxiety or depression around exam time. It is not the be-all-and-end-all, so be aware of how your teenager is coping.

Be prepared to test, coach, or otherwise encourage your son or daughter, but don’t expect this. Offer the support, but your child may well prefer to work alone.

Attend any support sessions put on by the school.

Oxford Home Schooling have put together an ebook with lots more supportive tips. You can find it here.

By Naomi

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