As most teachers are aware, the academic year is basically over! In terms of teaching weeks, there’s very little in it now: Xmas is just 20 teaching days away. Then there is February half term and Easter... which means 3 whole weeks out of the classroom before exam season starts.
Are you prepared? Is your child prepared? The answer is probably no, because this slipping away of time is silent and stealth-like.
So, what can you do to prepare yourself and your child who is about to embark on their GCSEs?
1. Be completely aware of each exam date. Your child’s school knows these dates, and they are available on each exam board website now.
2. Calculate how many weeks/days until each exam and make a plan with your child. Yes, now!
3. What subject does your child struggle with most? Is it an essential one? Prioritise maths and English LANGUAGE. Generally, no college or university will take students without them.
4. Practice exam questions at home every other day. Once you child is two weeks away from the exams, switch up and make it every day.
5. Get exam answers marked PROPERLY. Teachers are very busy, but in the run-up to exams it’s all hands on deck. Ask family members if they know anyone who can help. Pay a tutor for a few weeks just to do marking.
6. Know that predicted grades honestly mean very little. Last year, I had a student on their fourth retake who came to me for tutoring. She had never attained higher than an E, but this time, she achieved a 9. (Which is an A-grade in old money.) Your child CAN improve significantly at any time - it’s never too late to try something new.
7. Remember: unless your child wants to do an English Literature A Level, Language is where the focus should be. It’s what colleges want, what universities want, and what employers want. If you pass Literature but not Language, it’s unlikely you’ll get your college place or apprenticeship.
8. One of the most effective ways to improve is to time your child, so start now. By the exam they should be much quicker. It doesn’t matter how clever you think your child is, if they can’t actually get the answer down fast enough.
9. It’s frightening to feel like you’re not doing enough for your child, and they aren’t revising enough. But them going to bed at a reasonable time and taking breaks from revision, will benefit them in the long run. I have seen anxiety and tiredness ruin many an A-grade student.
10.Remember that having a planned strategy for the paper will make your child feel calm, confident and in control.
This is tried and tested over 17 years of teaching and 11 of tutoring. It works. There will always be the anomaly student who can rock up unprepared and smash it out the park. 99% of students aren’t this person. Good Luck!