The mock exams are now over and we are approaching the summer GCSE and A-level exams…

The mock exams are now over and we are approaching the summer GCSE and A-level exams…

The best time to plant an oak tree is 25 years ago. The second-best time is NOW! The Spring term – from January to March/April – is the most condensed term of the academic year. Not only is it the shortest, it is only the time when teachers are trying to finish the bulk of the curriculum. For exam groups such as Year 11 and the final year of A-level (A2), teachers are trying to ensure that the specification in their subject is covered by the time the school breaks for Easter.  This is in order to allow revisiting of the material that was covered much earlier in the course.

From the teenager’s point of view – especially those who are in the final stages of their secondary education – the thinking usually includes something to do with exams. It is either that they’ve done the mock exams before Christmas or they’ve just completed them or they are right in the middle of those mock exams. Whichever is the case, there is usually a lot of apprehension about exams at this time of the year as there are fewer than five months before the all-important summer exams start. In fact, there are about 15 to 17 teaching weeks before the exams start – depending on the school. As they say, an oak tree is better planted 25 years ago, but if that was not done at the time, right now is the next best time. Preparation for exams should have started a long time ago, but irrespective of what the student has done up to now, what they do between now and the exams will still make a difference to their grades.

In this first of a four-part series of blogposts, I will offer practical advice. The second part is about the mindset – and has to do with helping your child to have clarity about what they want and what the need as we approach the exams. The third is about action and this has to do with the how they invest their time on a day to day basis, the activities they focus on and the ones they must avoid or spend less time on – such as their electronic devices, smartphones and so on. The fourth and final blogpost is about nurture and this is the part in which you as a parent have a bigger role to play.

I am offering certain practical advice for you as a parent and hope the points that I am highlighting are something you may want to think about and make use of, in conversing with your son or daughter. I am deliberately not going into detail about each of these points, but I am leaving them reasonably open so you can think about how each applies to your son or daughter.

Practical advice for parents in nurturing their child to success as we approach the summer exams

CARING! – the caring parent you are

  1. Conversations – including gentle persuasion and making them aware
  2. Awareness of useful information – research, and filtering the clutter
  3. Reassurance – reassuring and reminding them of past successes and that they can do it!
  4. Investment of time, first, possibly money too. The time you spend speaking to them
  5. Nag not! – if you can help it, try to avoid being seen to be nagging, instead try to encourage them, but be firm and keep an eye on progress
  6. Give support and reward good behaviour, including small steps in the right direction, with praises first and material rewards – like money or gifts – second


Practical advice for the teenager as the summer exams get closer


  1. Mindset – clarity and focus
  2. Action plan – does not have to be perfect, but it is helpful to have a plan
  3. Tools and support the student needs to succeed
  4. Character – perseverance and not giving up too easily
  5. Habits – managing yourself – routine, electronics overload to be AVOIDED!!

I hope you have found this blogpost useful and please watch this space for my next blog post, which is mainly on mindset

A link to a related blogpost: