A parent’s guide to surviving exam season

A parent’s guide to surviving A-level and GCSE exam season

Exam season is fast approaching, stress levels are rising, nerves are fraying and there may have been a few interrupted night’s sleep from worrying – and this is just how parents are feeling.

There was a significant amount of press coverage last year about the new tough exams that shocked the ‘class of 2018’.  The new GCSEs were significantly harder than the previous GCSEs and everyone – teachers, parents and students – felt the pressure.

Right now, schools and colleges across the borough will be reiterating the same advice to students and parents in preparation for exams and that is: it’s not too late to start and everything you do now will make a difference to the exam outcome.

To support parents through exam season, here are ten top tips about what they can do to help their teen:

  1. Structure your child’s day.
    All teenagers waste time.  Adults may remember this well from when they were teens and many did not have the distraction of a mobile phone to waste their time back then.  Parents will need to help their child manage their revision, relaxation and family time.
  2. If students sleep right, they think right.
    Recommendations are that GCSE and A-level students get about nine hours sleep a night.  Students need to get into a healthy sleep routine. Top tips for a good night’s sleep include going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding caffeine before bed and putting phones and other electronic devices away to prevent distractions.
  3. Avoid busy mornings. Some exams will start promptly at 9am. Many schools will provide students with time before the exams so that teachers can calm nerves and check-in.  Students should go to bed nice and early, wake up early, have a good breakfast and set off early for the day to avoid any rushing.
  4. Plan for success.
    Use the exam timetable to know exactly when the exams are and what topics are on each paper.  Make sure your child is prepared for the right paper on the right day.
  5. Healthy body makes an alert brain.
    Make sure your child is eating healthy food and doing some exercise.  Brains need to process all the revision and then be ready to recall this during the exam.
  6. Manage screen time.
    The best thing a parent can do for their child during revision sessions is to help them manage their screen time. Ideally, students would do this themselves, but some encouragement or rules may be needed.
  7. Work with your child.
    Taking the opportunity to talk through a topic is a very valuable revision technique.  Ask questions like: “Tell me what might come up on the exam?”, “Tell me more about that topic?”, “How did you work that out?”  The best question to keep asking is “What else?”
  8. Use the specification and past exam questions.
    Exam boards will use the specification to write the exam paper, use this to direct revision.  Exam papers are great practice to learn how the examiners word questions.  Repeating an exam already completed is a very useful exercise.
  9. Ask the experts.
    If there is anything that your child is struggling with make a list and ask the class teacher for support.  Often 5 or 10 minutes chatting with a teacher will save your child hours trying to solve it at home.
  10. Encourage your child to attend every extra revision and support session the school provides.
    Schools will be offering extra sessions after school, holidays and weekends to help your child succeed.

Most importantly, stay calm and remember this will be all over soon and that your child will have the longest summer holiday they have every had!

We wish all students the very best for their exams.