Exams and How to Survive Them


Exam season is upon us and stress levels are high. This can be a challenging time of year for everyone in the family. It is not just the children who lose sleep, but also their parents who agonise over academic pressure and worry about studying techniques and results. That being said, with the right approach, exams can be managed and conquered while the family's sanity remains intact.  


Here are five tips for parents on how to support children through exam season. I’ve aimed them at children studying for GCSEs, but the main points apply across the board:


  1) Make sure they tackle their files: Students come home with bulging lever arch files of notes thinking they have no hope of memorising all of their contents. The truth is, they don’t have to. The syllabus is key. The notes that matter are those that cover the syllabus and nothing more. Random bits of homework, that unnecessary photocopied pie-chart should be binned, leaving a far less intimidating volume of work.


  2) Become familiar with mark schemes: Mark schemes are invaluable as they reveal what the examiner is looking for. Students should review them and adapt their notes accordingly.


  3) Take breaks: Study sessions will only be effective if the brain has some down time in between. Reading a book or a magazine or getting some exercise are great ways to 'switch off' and allow the mind to recuperate.


  4) No skipped meals: Children who are hungry are not able to focus properly. In as much as it's possible, parents should monitor their eating habits particularly closely during exam season to make sure that they get enough brain fuel and are not relying on crisps and soda at their desks.


  5) Keep a healthy perspective: Exams are important, but they are not everything. If your child is struggling, ask for help from teachers or tutors. And remember many successful people were late bloomers. It's unlikely that Damien Hirst spends much time lamenting his E in Art A-level. That said, as someone who made his money pickling things, perhaps he aced Home Ec.  

  If you found this article useful you may want to read these features:

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Sarah Govett is the YA author of the award-winning Territory series and a private tutor. www.sarahgovett.com