DS struggling with exams (YR 13 aged18)

(27 Posts)
FacDoff Mon 26-Sep-16 23:54:41

DS does not struggle with homework, lessons or understanding of his chosen A level subjects (maths and sciences).

He does however keep getting ridiculously low marks in tests and exams.

No stress, worries or backstory.

It would seem the knowledge is in there but he just can't express it in his answers!

He's moved on to the new A level system so there aren't any past papers available to try.

Any help, tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

TIA

a7mints Mon 26-Sep-16 23:55:55

Do the old a level papers.

a7mints Mon 26-Sep-16 23:57:02

What subjects is he doing? I think the answer is different depending on whether it is sciences or humanities

choirmumoftwo Tue 27-Sep-16 00:01:02

No advice really, but my sympathy as my DS is the same. He performs well in class, always completes and submits homework on time and his coursework is fine, but he struggles in exams. He's taking all essay based subjects as well. We just keep plugging away doing practice questions. He is getting better.

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 00:02:13

He's doing Physics, Biology and Maths.

He's convinced he's going to fail.

He's being tutored in all 3 subjects in addition to regular classes.

Feedback from all is good, he just evidently can't do exams angry

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 00:03:27

Choir

How are you feeling?
I'm just so gutted for him. He genuinely couldn't work any harder sad

titchy Tue 27-Sep-16 07:46:45

What did he get in AS maths? Is he resitting papers?

There are plenty of specimen papers for Physics and Biology btw, and Maths hasn't changed for his year group so again plenty of papers. What have school said?

Has his tutor sat next to him while he attempts a paper to see what is going on?

Needmoresleep Tue 27-Sep-16 07:47:55

Has he been screened for dyslexia. DD is dyslexic and her exam performance is almost always below class performance.

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 07:51:09

Titchy
AS maths grade C, resorting C1 & C2.
Predicted a B - needs an A.

Need
No, very competent reader and writer and never had any concerns.
Might be worth looking into though, will try anything!

titchy Tue 27-Sep-16 08:07:33

Well I wouldn't call a C 'can't do exams'! He clearly CAN, just isn't getting the grades he needs.

Practice practice practice.

Have you got copies of his AS papers to see where he slipped up?

Bluntly - if you have three tutors, university may not be the right destination...

LIZS Tue 27-Sep-16 08:23:20

He could have a processing issue, or he could just struggle with exam technique. If the knowledge is there maybe ask tutor to focus on time management and analysing what the questions are specifically looking for. Has he had y12 exams and received feedback?

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 08:28:48

Titchy - school have confirmed there are no specimen papers for the current syllabus and Mark scheme.

He's going to ask the tutor to "supervise" a paper.

Copies of the test papers have been requested.

The tutors have only been employed for 3 weeks - a last ditch attempt to improve grades.
He's also looking at the forces and apprenticeships.

He has been schooled (by school, a small independent, that Uni is the final destination!)

Liz - thank you for that. I did wonder if this might be the case.
He only sat the maths paper as its modular and the subject he dropped.

LooseAtTheSeams Tue 27-Sep-16 09:07:55

Is it exam technique? Does he finish the papers? Does he spend too long on questions with fewer marks and rush the more complicated ones? or is it panic? The best thing is to do practice questions (old papers, revision books, doesn't matter) under strict timed conditions. The tutor then marks the question and they analyse it together. It should become clear whether it's lack of understanding, misunderstanding the question or something else.
I'm not a scientist but I hear that biology in particular looks for very specific vocabulary - and he may be struggling with this, in which case I think a tutor who picks up on this would be a big help to him.

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 14:50:34

Loose - yes, I think it's technique.
One teacher has said today, there's nothing she can help with as DS doesn't struggling with "anything in particular"

Time management in exams doesn't seem to be a problem, he always answers all questions and has time for checking.

Definitely going to try the tutor and exam papers.

Thanks to all for you input wine

chocolateworshipper Tue 27-Sep-16 17:21:38

I would definitely get him screened for dyslexia. Until my DD was screened, I had no idea that dyslexia was so broad. DD was always way ahead in reading age and has neat handwriting, but she is significantly below average in cognitive processing and therefore struggles to get ideas down on paper. She was given a scribe and the quality of her work was significantly improved. Do NOT let the school / college fob you off.

curryandrice Tue 27-Sep-16 17:40:26

If he has slow processing/dyslexia this would explain the mismatch between class work and exam work. Depending on their profile, students with these sort of difficulties may be entitled to extra time, a reader and/or a scribe. Applications for access arrangements such as this have to be in by Feb 2017 (I think) for the May/June exams so if he is going to be assessed, you really need to get it done this term - possibly privately as time is limited - and then ensure that the school follow the recommendations.

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 17:45:08

Thank you Chocolate.

He's saying he's not dyslexic...
There is another boy who is and apparently had neither a scribe nor extra time.

I'll have a chat with his Dad later.

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 17:45:59

Cross post Curry - thank you for that info smile

chocolateworshipper Tue 27-Sep-16 17:55:54

Just because someone else doesn't get any help for dyslexia, doesn't mean that your son won't. It really is incredibly broad. It can range from just needing a coloured overlay to needing a scribe (or assistive technology) and 25% extra time.

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 18:15:17

I know that Chocolate, DS is just being a stubborn git wink

chocolateworshipper Tue 27-Sep-16 19:23:37

Lol - shame there is no assistance for stubborn teens wink

curryandrice Tue 27-Sep-16 19:36:51

It might help if you make him aware that there is no link between intelligence and slow processing or dyslexia. Individuals can be competent readers and still have dyslexia.

My DD got 10 A/A* at GCSE - when she sat her GCSEs, we did not realise that she was dyslexic but were aware that she had to work much harder than her friends to get the same results. Her A level English teacher suggested that she should be assessed for dyslexia and we were surprised to find that she was severely dyslexic and qualifies for a reader, a scribe or laptop and 25% extra time. She doesn't use either a reader or scribe but does have the extra time and a separate room (she finds it helpful to read aloud). She also qualified for DSA of £3k when she went to uni.

FacDoff Tue 27-Sep-16 20:41:01

Curry & Chocolate
(Now that's a combo!)

Thank you both flowers

d270r0 Tue 27-Sep-16 22:06:39

I'm a maths teacher- so can help you with the maths at least.

The most common way that students lose marks in exams are because they do not fully write down the working, or write it down incorrectly. Many marks in A level are given for the working. Other questions might be worth 6 marks, if they make a tiny error and put 6.4 instead of 6.5, and no working is shown, thery would get 0 of those 6 marks. However, if they wrote down every single thing they did, showing what they added, integrated, etc. then even if the answer is wrong, they might still get 4 marks.
They are a number of students who just don't do this, you can tell them over and over again but they won't do it. They think it doesn't matter but it makes a massive difference.

Don't get hung up about the new A level. Go on edexcel site and find some past papers and mark schemes. Doesn't matter if they're a bit different, he needs to get into the habit of answering the questions correctly, showing everything. Just find some on topics hes done. He needs to really read through the mark schemes so he can see what marks are given for what.

d270r0 Tue 27-Sep-16 22:06:40

I'm a maths teacher- so can help you with the maths at least.

The most common way that students lose marks in exams are because they do not fully write down the working, or write it down incorrectly. Many marks in A level are given for the working. Other questions might be worth 6 marks, if they make a tiny error and put 6.4 instead of 6.5, and no working is shown, thery would get 0 of those 6 marks. However, if they wrote down every single thing they did, showing what they added, integrated, etc. then even if the answer is wrong, they might still get 4 marks.
They are a number of students who just don't do this, you can tell them over and over again but they won't do it. They think it doesn't matter but it makes a massive difference.

Don't get hung up about the new A level. Go on edexcel site and find some past papers and mark schemes. Doesn't matter if they're a bit different, he needs to get into the habit of answering the questions correctly, showing everything. Just find some on topics hes done. He needs to really read through the mark schemes so he can see what marks are given for what.

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