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Helping your child to prepare for assessments or exams

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Whether they’re facing practice exams or the real thing, most teenagers feel increased pressure as assessments approach. This can create added stress for students and others in their household. If left unmanaged, it may continue to build for some children, undermine achievement and, in the long-term, possibly cause health problems.

Here are some ideas for parents who want to support their son or daughter during the year as they prepare for exams. Most are written as suggested tips for students, so you can share them with your teenager and find out which tips they think would be good for them.


Communication is everything

Staying in touch with your child and their school is vital, even though it can be challenging during the teenage years. Try to be a coach, not a director. Help them to choose the best path, rather than forcing them to follow yours. Speak with them as you would with your friends, and you might have a friend for life. You don’t have to be a subject expert or qualified teacher, you just need to help them set realistic goals, manage time well, get extra help when it’s needed, stay healthy and celebrate successes. How hard can it be, right?


If the exams are still a long way off

Create a quiet study environment, with space and comfort. Regular steady revision is always better than late night cramming before the exams. Set a realistic weekly study timetable. If something more important comes up, simply reallocate the study time to another day before you head out. That way you can enjoy some quality relaxation knowing you won’t fall behind. Take regular short breaks while studying, keep in touch with friends, eat healthy food and get plenty of sleep. Create summary notes and mind-maps, and keep them on-hand for later revision. Regularly ask your teachers how you’re progressing and get help early, before small problems start to limit further learning.

If a school test or report has raised concerns

Try to focus on solutions not problems or excuses. Remember that everyone tends to progress in bursts; it’s seldom a steady process. Talk to your teachers to find out what you need to do to catch up and how best to go about it. Ask for specific details, not general statements. Set a series of small realistic goals and identify how you’ll know you’ve achieved them. Celebrate when you do.

If the exams are not that far away

Make sure you know exactly what each exam will be assessing. Allocate time to each topic or achievement standard, so you cover them all. Tackle the ones you are less confident about first, so there’s time to arrange extra help if it’s needed. Practice previous exam papers. Write key facts or learning points on cards, a pocket-size notebook or a free flashcard phone app. That way you can carry them with you and put downtime, like waiting for a bus, to good use. Flash cards also make it easy to ask someone to quiz you on a topic. Your parents would probably love it if you ask them to help in some way.

In the weeks before

Put mind maps and revision points up on the walls. Explain topics to others to find out what you thought you knew, but didn’t. Sleep and eat well, and take time to relax. Double-check your exam timetable. Put it in a calendar on your wall and ask a parent to double-check you’ve got it right. Know the exam rules and organise what you need to bring well ahead of time. Keep your exam slip in a safe place and remember to take it with you. Plan your transport for each exam, as well as an alternative in case something goes wrong, like a bus not turning up. Share plans with your parents so they can remind you of anything you forget. If something is worrying you, talk about it with an adult you trust. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. Stay in touch with friends for relaxation, but try not to get caught up in unhelpful stress talk. Believe in yourself and choose to do your best. You got this.

How we can help

If you’re considering after-school tutoring for English or maths, or need help with planning revision and practising exams, come and see us at NumberWorks’nWords. We offer a free no-obligation assessment and you can try a free lesson with one of our tutors. Whether you choose to continue with us or not, we’ll discuss the results with you and explain how we would address any learning gaps you may have. Book a free assessment today.


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