Helping Your Child through Exams

It is exam season; are you (the parent) feeling the pressure? Take advice from our Counselling and Support Team Leader on how best to support your child through the possible stress of revision and exams. If you can show the love and support to your child during this time, this will ease any worry you may have too.

Assisting with revision at home:

The secret to doing well in exams is in the planning. You can help your child to create a clear revision plan and method of studying that will make them feel in control of their work.

It’s exam time; here’s what you can do to support:

  • work out a revision timetable for each subject
  • take revision time into small chunks – maximum hour-long sessions with short breaks at the      end of each session often work well
  • make sure your child has all the books and materials ready
  • help to condense notes onto postcards to act as revision prompts
  • buy new stationery, highlighters and pens to make revision more interesting
  • go through school notes with your child (at their pace) or listen while they revise a topic and  talk about it

Providing all-round support:

The best way to support your child during the stress of revision and exams is to make home life as calm and pleasant as possible. It helps if other members of the household are aware that your child may be under pressure and that allowances should be made for this.

If your child is given study leave in the run-up to exams, try to be at home as much as possible so that you can share a break and a chat together. If your child shares a bedroom with a sibling try to occupy the sibling and encourage them to appreciate the situation.

Make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks and drinking water and try to provide good, nutritious meals at regular intervals. Encourage your child to join family meals, even if it is a busy revision day – it is important to have a change of scene and get away from the books and computer for a while. Also, encourage your child to take regular exercise. A brisk walk around the block can help clear the mind before the next revision session. Study “chunks” aid memory and retention.

Try not to question “how long have you studied today?” or make too many demands on your child during exam time. Arguments are counter-productive and will only add unnecessary stress and distract from quality revision.

It is important to get a good night's sleep before an exam, so discourage your child from staying up late to cram. And make sure he or she eats a good breakfast on the morning of the exam. Wish them luck with a hug and kiss.

Bribes, treats and rewards

Some children are “bribed” to do well in exams and are offered cash or gifts to achieve good grades. But bribery is not a good idea as it implies that the only worthwhile reward for hard work is money and that you do not trust your child to work hard. Negative messages like these will affect your child’s sense of self-worth.

Encourage your child to do well for his or her own sake rather than for money or to please you. Explain that exams are a gateway to the next stage of life – to another Key Stage or to IGCSEs, IB Diploma, A Levels, university, college or work. Their best results are the greatest reward for hard work and will make your child proud of his or her achievements.

Make sure your child knows you're interested in their work and that you will be proud if they do their very best. The end of all the exams can be celebrated with a treat that everyone can look forward to, such as a family meal out or a trip to the cinema.