The traditional GCSE and A-level exams are definitely happening this summer. In fact, some students have already taken their IGCSE in Maths – including my son, who got his results this week. Here, I am sharing with you 7 key points that you, as a parent can use to supportyour child as they prepare for the summer examinations.
- It will be more difficult to get top grades this year (2022), as fewer top grades will be awarded in comparison to 2021. This is to addressthe concernthat many have about grade inflation, as the rate at which the proportion of top grades increased in the last two years is unsustainable.
- Your child must have clarity on the content to revise for theexam, and they should have received all necessarydetails from school about each subject. This is because of the slight reduction in content in some subjects. Whilst ensuring they do not bother about revising what they do not have to, it is important not to dwell too much on the content reduction as not much was actually taken off in most subjects.
- Mastery of concept should be the starting point and primary focus of any revision they do. Many students speak so much about exam technique. Exam technique is important as it helpsstudents to master how to answer questions in the bestway that will earn them high marks.However, there has to be a solid understanding of concepts first and then exam technique can be the icing on the cake.
- For many children, it is more productive where possible, to have them study in the family area where you can keep an eye on them. This depends on how muchyou trust your child to focus on their study and not waste valuable time locked in their room being distracted by their electronic devices when they are meant to concentrate on their studies. Many will say this point is more relevant to younger children below the age of 14 or so, but I do not completely agree. My own son is very motivated and he does well in his exams; however, I often insist that he studies in the family area at times. This is especially the case when exams are still far away and he may not think it is necessary to do the work then, but to wait until closer to the exams… You may decide that you are not going to enforce this strictly and try to encourage your child by dialogue.
- Young people should not have their electronic devices whilst studying, and mobile phones and computer games should be completely out of sight. In fact, they should be turned off and not in the same room. No, they should never be allowed to use their mobile phone as a calculator, for two reasons: it is not allowed in the exam hall, and they need to get used to using a proper scientific calculator at all times.
- Printing out past exam papers and attempting the questions under exam conditions is an essential part of the exam preparation repertoire, and there are so many reasons for this. It must not be underestimated how many students lose valuable marks because they run out of time for the last questions, which often carry many marks. For each paper they are sitting, a student who is aiming for the top grades should attempt a minimum of 6 past papers, and get at least one; possibly two marked by a teacher. They can do the remaining papers by themselves, using the mark scheme.
- Get help as and when needed, in the form of extra tuition lessons. After all, as reported on both the BBC and the Guardian website, private tuition is the secret weapon in the education arms race. It is important for your child to revise the topics first and highlight topics they do not understand well enough before seeking help. This close to the exams, it is vital that any extra tuition help starts with reinforcing the child’s knowledge and question-answering skills in the areas where they are weak.
I wish you the best in your conversations with your teenager, as you try to guide and encourage them to work towards achieving their full potential in their GCSE and A-level exams.
We have something called “21 Exam Success Tips,”written by Megan Smith. You can find it on our website or contact us and we’d happily send you a copy.