News and Events

Exam time – how to do your best and not get stressed

Posted: 11th June 2024

June is the time in school when the rooms go quiet, pupils get their heads down, and the exam season is upon us… It is a sad inevitability of the academic calendar that this cycle returns each summer, and we know that this can cause anxiety and concern for those who are facing exams, and also for those with whom they live. I feel especially sorry for parents with siblings in exam years – it is not unusual to have a GCSE and an A level candidate in the same household…

So how does one manage this and support their children? Well, there are some key pieces of advice that all parents can adopt to make sure that their daughters and sons are well prepared for the exams, and that the household remains calm and productive.

        1. Help them to structure a sensible revision plan and start revising early. Top grades are not secured or lost on the day, but rather through the preceding two years in class, and through the revision programme in the months leading up to the exam season.
        2. Help them to go through the subjects (and topics) that they feel more and less confident about – so that they can be self-evaluative and able to focus on what needs most work.
        3. Help them to consider how best they should revise. There is evidence to say that the Pomodoro Technique, which chunks the revision into 25 minute slots is an effective technique which can add variety to a revision programme and break the programme up.
        4. Use rewards and incentives as a motivator. Everyone enjoys a little gift, some favourite food or a few kind words to urge them on – and your revising teenager will not be any different.
        5. Work out what revision approach works best for your child – is it making flowcharts, or spider diagrams? Or perhaps listening to recordings or using online revision resources to test knowledge. Generally, a mixture of different approaches is a good idea, but all young people will have an approach that makes more sense to them and works best for them and they should use it.
        6. Make sure your child does not do revision only – to the exclusion of everything else that they enjoy during the exam and revision period. Time spent in the outdoors is, we know great for our mental health, as is exercise, so we recommend that pupils are keeping up with their sports commitments, or walking the dog, or pursuing their artistic hobbies; all of these will mean that they feel more energised when the next 25-minute revision slot comes along.
        7. Support your child to ensure that they eat well, rest well and do not get too distracted by their mobile device or technology.
        8. And keep an eye out for stress indicators – the NHS has some great advice on how to help teenagers through the stress of exams here.

Here at school we work hard to help pupils feel well prepared, starting back in the early years of the senior school, by helping them to structure their revision and giving advice about how much time they should be spending on their work. This trains them well, and also promotes the development of a range of resources and structures that they will find useful in their revision for the more formal public exams, later in their school career.

The key message for us all is to ensure that teenagers feel supported and confident as they go into the exam hall. This will have been possible if they have followed the guidance above – and we wish them all every success for some great results!

LAS, June 10, 2024.

Categories: Head's blog
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