I once heard a teacher of GCSE English remark that one of the best ways to teach his students how to pass was to take the examination himself. Each year he would sit down over the summer holidays and attempt the same papers as his students had done that year, and use this knowledge to pass on valuable advice to the next year group. “There’s no better way to appreciate how hard it is for them,” he used to say. This made me think of some ways to help students through their GCSE exam that as a parent, you may not have thought of before.
Become the Student
Helping your teen through their exams means imagining yourself sitting those exams and sharing what you would do. You can apply, with hindsight this time, the best advice you should have taken yourself. You can add the skills you’ve learned in the working world.
Past Paper Practice
These abound on the internet and you just need to know which board your child is studying for each GCSE subject. It sounds like the most simple thing in the world to prepare, yet you’d be surprised how many subject teachers don’t provide this material for their students. Double-check your teenager has accessed at least one paper per subject as revision. They probably won’t realise it’s all out there and available on the internet, mainly because it isn’t listed under ‘cat selfies’.
Make a Schedule
GCSE studies include up to eleven different subjects and a multitude of papers for each one of these. If your teenager, like most, struggles to comprehend a local bus timetable, do you really expect them to write a comprehensive revision schedule? Most teenagers will never have had to be so organised. Here’s your chance to show off your skills with time-management and draw up (with them) a schedule which includes daily revision slots, time off, time out, and or variations like interactive study time online, visits to the library or Q and A sessions with you.
New to many schools is online learning programs which have a wealth of valuable revision material. Your child will have passwords and access to some of these, and spending some time looking with them through what is available may yield some surprising insights. Maybe there are extra sheet tabs they haven’t noticed or more than one front page of material. We all assume youngsters are really tech-savvy, but they mainly know how to instant message each other. Navigating software designed for office workers? Not so much.
At the end of the day, think about everything that’s been a first in your child’s life. From first steps to first reading words, you helped them using your wealth of grown-up experience. GCSE examination technique is not something that comes automatically to anyone, and be assured your teenager will appreciate any guidance from you as they sit down to their first big examination series.