Exam Fever! What parents can do to help their children through the exam experience


Know the exam timetable yourself
Get the dates right, make sure that you know what is being tested and when. One subject may have more than one exam, especially language papers which can have three components of listening, writing and oral tests. If you know the exam timetable, then this helps you to plan with them their study time and build in appropriate time and strategies for each exam.

Have the timetable visible for all to see
Put the timetable in places where everyone can see it; on the fridge, on the door to their bedroom, in your handbag. This will ensure that everyone knows when the exams are and it is a reminder of the importance of this time for the entire household.

Provide study resources
Everyone studies differently. Maybe they would like to use revision cards, or coloured paper, highlighters, whiteboards or flip charts to stick onto the walls. We need to assist them in whatever helps them to revise and feel like they are making headway in their studies.

Ensure an uncluttered study space
Make sure that there is a good study space for them to work in. Have a clear desktop and filing system to put their books and notes into, take away clutter and put it somewhere else. Bring together all their text books and notes. Take away distractions Things in the room that can be too tempting, like the xbox and TV, need to be physically removed to help them stay focused.


Prepare a study timetable together
Planning a study timetable can be difficult. Help to design a schedule that will ensure that all the subjects are covered adequately. Identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to support them.

Negotiate free time activities
When your child needs to blow off steam you need to ensure that it isn’t something that will affect their study schedules the following day. Late nights should be avoided, they need to prioritise the importance of this period in their life. There will be plenty of time to party once the exams are over!

Discuss alterations to the study plan
All good plans will be altered due to unavoidable circumstances as well as time wasted due to procrastination, underestimation of the work that is required to cover a topic or they want to continue with a subject as they are in the ‘zone’. Whatever the reason an alternate plan needs to be discussed so that the time left will fit the job.

Internet access
It is very easy to be distracted by the internet, we rely on is so much for communication, entertainment and research that it becomes a crutch to everything we do. The internet is a distraction! You can take control and switch off the internet at the power point.

Night study rules
Lots of kids like to study at night, it can be quieter, however, this can turn them into ‘vampires’ waking up in the afternoon, this sleeping pattern will not help them once the exams start as most have an early morning start.


Watch the time
A study session shouldn’t last for more than 45 minutes, and depending on the subject this can be shorter or longer. Reading intensively for 20 minutes is long enough, each study session should consist of reading, reviewing and compiling of study notes. It is your job to come in and let them know when breaks are needed, have a quick chat and get them onto their next task.

Make sure they take breaks
Sometimes they get into a study zone where they like to keep ploughing on into the subject, the problem with this is that they get tired later on and don’t study as effectively on other subjects, when this happens make sure they take a proper break to refresh. Get them to take the dog for a walk, go for a swim/run/walk, or take them out of the house on an errand to the shops just to stimulate their body from sitting at the desk all day.

Bring them snacks and drinks
Shop for snacks and drink they like so they feel like they are being treated for good study sessions. Have a nice lunch waiting for them when they break. This will also encourage them to take breaks and allows you a chance to enquire how they are going with their study.

Take them out of the house, go for lunch
When they have that afternoon session off plan to do something so they don’t just sit around the house feeling like a prisoner. This also gives you a chance to hear them talk about their study progress. Take them out for lunch!!


Exams means everyone is part of the plan
Everyone in the family commits to the study plan and agrees to its consequences. Commitment to the study plan means that all agree to helping their brother/sister succeed in their exams. This means no distractions, loud music or activities that interrupt the study atmosphere.

Family outings mean everyone
It is unfair to plan events when the child has exams and is unable to attend. So visits to the movies, for example, should be done during study breaks. Watching TV and favourite movies at home should also be regulated. Record favourite shows and watch them when everyone can.

Distractions to a minimum
It is amazing how tempers can fray over the simplest of things around exam time. Sometimes you many need to get siblings out of the house when things are getting out of control. Weekends are the most difficult to manage if the study timetable includes weekends as well.


Using ‘extra time’ concessions in exams
Show them how to use extra time and how to calculate it. An extra time allowance of 25% is 15 minutes per hour. What is the revised total time and how does this relate to how the take their exams? Extra time is designed for them to read, plan and revise their answers. So, get them to practice this at home in mock exams.

Staying calm
You can help them to stay calm by ensuring they don’t feel alone in this process. Reassure them that you are concerned about their welfare more than the results and that you know they will try their best and will still love them if their results are not what they expect.

Getting sleep
Sleep is so important. Those late nights studying take their toll, and sleep debt, like a financial debt, is difficult to recover from. Be firm about them getting enough sleep and also ensure they have the correct sleep patterns leading up to the exams.

Your children will achieve! Stay positive and keep smiling!