The purpose of my message is to offer a little helping hand, in terms of sharing thoughts with you as a parent. Although I’m also a teacher, I will be speaking more from a parent’s point of view but also using some of the lessons that I’ve learnt as a teacher and curriculum manager in the secondary education sector since 1993.
Most of my message is directed at parents who have children who are taking GCSE or A-level this summer as they have examinations in the next six to ten weeks. However, parents with younger children can also benefit from what I have to share, as every young person is taking some sort of exam this summer – be it the main GCSE, A-level or internal school examinations.
Common myths dispelled
First of all, I like to dispel a couple of myths: the first one is that exams are starting in two weeks time and the second is related to the first – it’s too late to do anything at present that will bring about an improvement to the outcome of my child’s summer examinations – i.e – the exam grades the child will achieve.
First, exams for most of the core subjects will not take place until the second half of May and early June – meaning there are about 5 or so weeks at the earliest before the main exams for GCSEs. For art and languages such as French and German, exams are usually earlier and nothing major happens for three or so weeks before the main exams kick in. English, Maths and the Science subjects will take place from late May to mid-June.
Second, what a student does in the next five to six weeks can still bring about an improvement in their exam grade by one or as much as two grade points.
I’ll emphasise, it is not too late and much can still be gained between now and the exams in the summer. A couple of days ago, I was speaking to a friend, who happens to have a daughter who is doing her GCSE this summer. In our conversation, I mentioned that the Easter holiday revision in March/April is always the busiest period for students attending revision courses and in response, he said “why April and not May, as May is closer to the exams?” My response is that revising in April, May and June are all useful and some part of, or all of the holiday periods ought to be spent revising. I do agree with him that revision in May and in fact June – before and during the exam period has many benefits. One of the reasons is that not all parts of the specifications (Syllabi) are covered until May in many schools.
A few of my colleagues at Excel in Key Subjects and also myself, have written articles in the past – offering advice and sharing thoughts and ideas with parents on how to support their teenagers to achieve success at secondary school and beyond. One key aspect of that has to do with achieving higher grades – with exam revision as a key element. At the end of this message, I’ll be including some links to some of the articles we’ve written in the past but also, I will list, briefly, a few basic points that you may find useful in assisting your son or daughter at this crucial and potentially stressful period of their life.