What I have for you are seven key principles for boosting your son/daughter’s Exam Success. I hope they will be handy at this time of the academic year as we approach the summer examinations.
- Have a dialogue and encourage your son/daughter to decide and be very clear on the target grade in each of the subjects that matter. Get him/her to set achievable goals and put together a brief plan on how to achieve those grades. The written plan need not be very detailed – just one or two A4 pages will do and you may want to laminate it and put it in a prominent place
- Remember that execution is everything. A detailed and carefully made plan is useless; unless action is taken to achieve set goals.
- Behaviour matters more than intelligence. Working to achieve high examination grade cannot be done in isolation to other aspects of day-to-day activities. Minimising the amount of time spent on electronics, establishing a good sleeping, studying, eating pattern, relaxing and playing routine in a way that makes the most effective use of study time is vital for success.
- Working hard is not good enough. It is important to study and prepare for examinations in a way that is productive and leads to scoring marks in the examination. There is no substitute for understanding the basic concepts in each subjects. However, the ability to apply knowledge when answering exam questions (exam technique) is the difference that makes the difference and allows successful students to score high marks in the examination. Ignore the myth that everything is about exam technique – both subject knowledge and exam technique are important.
- Electronic distraction – a curse. High achieving students do not spend too much of their study and revision time on the computers or electronic devices. Technology is both a blessing and also a curse. Television, mobile phones, Facebook, text messages and e-mailing do more damage than good for productivity. Smart people use and control theses devices and media and they never permit these technological tools and toys to control their lives. Turning off or putting on aircraft mode and never using smartphones as a calculator is what the tiny minority of smart young people who succeed do.
Whilst computers and the Internet are vital in our lives, only those who use them in a careful and controlled way benefit from them. The Internet is just a tool for accessing information and students who are over-dependent on them usually fail to achieve high exam grades. Practising with questions must always be done by printing out the questions and handwriting the answers – not by typing or just looking at the questions on the computer. Reading a book for pleasure before bedtime is a lot more beneficial than being on the smartphone or tablet. The first thing to do after waking up must not be to go for smartphone or IPad or any form of computer. I occasionally use my devise an alarm but it is on aircraft mode so text messages and e-mails can’t distract me until I’m ready to check my messages.
6. Your child needs to learn how to make the best of the expertise that is available to him or her. He or she needs to find a way of asking and getting teachers to help. Seeking clarity on what to learn, completing set- tasks and asking the teacher to mark the work and provide meaningful feedback can make a huge difference to exam grades.
7. Extra help – Some schools are very good in providing additional support for students to improve their understanding in areas where they are weak or to reinforce their understanding on areas in which they are strong but need to be exceptional so they can score the top marks. Most resits of exams and many extra tuition provisions do not lead to any improvement in exam grade. If you want to seek extra tuition / revision support for your child, do not make a decision until you ask certain questions.