Help and Advice for Parents

Introduction

Exams, particularly important public exams, are stressful for students and probably even more so for their parents.

It isn't easy to watch your son or daughter suffer and not to know how to help.

Research indicates that those students who do best in exams;

  • have revised thoroughly and carefully
  • feel confident
  • have parents/guardians who take an interest in their revision.

So what can you do?

Do

  • Offer help:Let them know you are on their side, without putting them under too much pressure
    • as a tester by reading questions to your son/daughter and listening as they give their responses ;
    • as a source of knowledge if you can ;
    • as a buyer (of equipment, books, rewards)
  • Organise relaxing non-study activities for them
  • Encourage them with praise and rewards
  • Work out time limits with them, times to revise , times to relax
  • Make their environment revision friendly ( a room/place of their own, no distractions e.g. TV/mp3/mobile phone)

Do not

  • Force them to revise in ways you think best. They will have already identified their preferred Learning Style in school and they will know which techniques to use to maximise their learning.
  • Get involved in their stress; don't ‘trade anger' with them if they reach ‘melt down'
  • Make comparisons with other students/siblings, or yourself at a younger age
  • Give them permission to do badly, by saying that their exams aren't that important or by allowing them to waste their time, when you know they should be revising.
  • Believe their stories, when they say they don't need to revise or that none of their friends are revising. It's rubbish !

Stories they may tell you about revision

  • It's too early to start yet. It isn't. The most effective revision starts early and continues at a reasonable pace . Light revision 12 weeks before, heavy revision 6 weeks before, intense revision 2 weeks before and during the exams.
  • It's too late to start now. It's never too late to start. Better to start early of course but better late than never.
  • No-one else has started revising. Yes they have! They just aren't telling you. Even your ‘best friends'! And if afterwards they tell you they got an 'A' without revision they're telling lies.
  • You can't revise for...(English, Maths, RE, ICT etc, etc). Yes you can. There's always something to do; some way of helping you understand or know more.
  • You don't need to do well in... (English. Drama, RE, ICT etc). Employers and Universities prefer to see consistent results. An odd 'D' or 'E' suggests someone who is inclined to work hard only if they feel like it.
  • Revision is boring because it's just sitting staring at a book. No, it isn't. The best revision is active, lively and varied.
  • I can revise and listen to music/watch the television at the same time. Not if it requires concentration.

Revision Planner

This is a Top Tip ! Students say that using a Revision Planner helps them to set clear goals, knowing what they will achieve and by when.

Here is some advice from one of our successful students:

  • Split the subjects into topics (like chapters for maths subjects)
  • Write the specific topics in the boxes.
  • Revise each topic one by one
  • When this is finished do overall revision, like packs and past papers.

Every student will be issued with a BLANK Revision Planner (sample week shown below)

 

 

Not all students like to make a timetable of the TOPICS THEY INTEND TO REVISE. Instead they use the planner to RECORD THE TOPICS THEY HAVE REVISED. From time to time they look back at it, to see what they have done so far and what needs to be done next.

 

Time Management

Students who do well in exams are not necessarily the brightest but they are always the best prepared.

If you FAIL TO PREPARE then you should PREPARE TO FAIL.

Some quotations

  • Some is better than none; a lot is better than too much.
  • It is unwise to do too much on one day and none on another.
  • Your concentration span is constantly changing. It depends on the time of day, what you're doing and what you've done before. Half an hour is an accepted average before you need a change of activity. Sometimes it's ten minutes, sometimes three hours.
  • Students should have one day a week free from revision, as long as they work eight hour days the rest of the week.
  • Breaks are essential, even a short 20 minute break every 90 minutes will refresh your  mind.
  • Exercise and fresh air are also good for the brain. Students always forget that !

Active Learning

Variety, novelty and activity are the friends of the reviser. They keep the brain alert and fend off the worst enemy; stress-induced boredom.

Sitting reading and re-reading a book or a note book is often the worst form of revision; the mind blurs, the pages drift together and anxiety about the exam takes over the mind. But too many students think it's the only revision that counts and so waste far too much time looking at pages instead of revising.

Variety of Activity is Vital - Ten possible activities

  1. Reduce everything you know on a topic to 500 words, then to 200, then to 50, then to 10. Write those ten on a card for the morning of the exam.
  2. Read just the introductions and conclusion to chapters (and a whole book in an hour).
  3. Use the internet or buy revision guides.
  4. Spend some time each day on note learning. It gets easier.
  5. Watch BBC Bitesize or other revision websites (ask your teachers for advice)
  6. Do exam questions from past papers (for an hour/30 mins / 10mins...)
  7. At the end of each day, write what you have learned in very quick bullet points
  8. Invent and learn mnemonics ( make up words that mean something to you using the first letter of the items you are trying to remember)
  9. Make mind maps (and spider diagrams) put them on your wall and go over them every day . Stick them on the ceiling or on your mirror.
  10. Make flow charts, diagrams, graphs, drawings as well as notes.

 

Managing stress

Exams are stressful. So is revision. There is a constant fear of being found out, of not being good enough, of opening an exam paper and finding you can't answer any of the questions. The fear of having to face your parents, your grandparents and your friends when you don't do well.

Some things parents can do for their children to reduce stress.

  • Encourage them. Point out what they're good at. Tell them daily what they do well. Make mention of past success, current success with revision, success in previous exams.
  • If you look at their work, do not point out their errors,  point out what they've done well.
  • Get them to invite their friends round once a week. Shared revision makes it easier, and more enjoyable. ( as long as you can be sure they are revising )
  • Every now and then do something together you've never done before: go swimming or hiking, go to a concert together or simply go shopping...
  • Don't join in the general anxiety; be a picture of serene confidence

Environment and diet

A healthy diet, important always, becomes vital at times of pressure. Fresh vegetables, fruit and water are the most important. It is best to reduce sugar and fat. Fish is supposed to be good for the brain.

Students need a place to revise which is quiet, calm and comfortable.

Parents . . . . .

There is a great deal you can do. You can't revise for them and however much you'd like to, you can't take the exams for them, but you can be invaluable in making the exam process smooth, calm and successful.

Students . . . . .

SEVEN ways to get the BEST POSSIBLE EXAM RESULTS

  • 1. Pay Attention in class ..... ( If you do nothing, you'll learn Nothing ).
  • 2. TURN your mobile OFF .... No texts...No calls ....No distractions.
  • 3. Mind Map ..... ( do a two minute mind map sketch at the end of every lesson ).
  • 4. Make a REVISION TIMETABLE/PLANNER ....If you Fail to Plan then ‘Plan to Fail.'
  • 5. Little and Often Over Time revise in blocks of 30 minutes.. take breaks in between.
  • 6. TEST YOURSELF for the last 10 minutes of every revision session ... this forces your memory to recall what you have just learned ... the more you do this the better your memory becomes.
  • 7. The Future is NOW .... Doing stuff NOW will make it easier during the exams ... Hope won't help ..... Doing something WILL.
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