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Help, please - ADHD daughter struggling with ICT mock revision.

(19 Posts)
Floottoot Tue 10-Apr-18 22:27:30

DD has ADHD, with associated executive function issues and poor working memory.
She has a mock exam for the ICT short course iGCSE when she goes back to school next week, with the real exam in May.
I've been helping her revise over the last couple of weeks, using websites, last papers, revision text book, notes the school have provided; basically, anything and everything I can find.
However, she just isn't retaining anything. If I ask her a question, she flounders and says she knows the answer but just doesn't know how to say it. The truth is, she doesn't know it, or at least, she can't retrieve the correct information; she'll throw out a word connected to the topic but it could be any word.
I am tearing my hair out and just don't know what to do to help her. There is a real chance she could fail, which isn't a huge deal in itself but doesnt bode well for the next couple of years. We had the same experience in last year's end of year exams; I spent hours and hours helping her with maths but she only got 52% in each paper.
Any suggestions?

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TeenTimesTwo Wed 11-Apr-18 09:44:41

My DD1 (18) has dyspraxia, also with executive functioning and poor working memory. Revision was hard, we did everything you are doing, and I did revision for most of her subjects 1-1 with her.

The only advice I have is:
- don't try to remember all the fine details that get the top grades
- repeated going back does help and eventually more information will be retained.
- DD couldn't get on with mind maps or colours as they were too busy and we found old fashioned revision cards (which I had to create) worked best.
- we also had to practice explaining things using technical language (eg: not - the negative things whizz around the middle; but - the negatively charged electrons obit the nucleus)

She had to drop history, and failed RE short course in y10, but passed everything else.

Floottoot Wed 11-Apr-18 11:48:36

Thanks so much for your advice. It's good to know others have been through the same and survived; last night, I really could not see how she would ever get through exams but your post has given me encouragement.
I've been making revision cards as we've gone along, trying to be as succinct as possible. She does like mind maps but gets too wordy when drawing them. Your point about not stressing about the finer details is a good one - I'm a bit of a 110% person and have wondered whether I'm over egging stuff for what she actually needs to know to pass.
Her school advised her to drop a subject going into year 10 in September; we were reluctant but may have to reconsider.
As far as I can tell, her school hasn't given any particular advice about revision strategies so I may ask them to help DD with that.

On the plus side, I'm now pretty confident I could pass the ICT exam with flying colors. 🤣

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TeenTimesTwo Wed 11-Apr-18 12:59:49

We only had dyspraxia confirmed Dec of y11, though her difficulties had become more and more apparent as secondary progressed.

We dropped History after Jan mocks because
a) she had bombed
b) it had massive content
c) shoe couldn't answer the questions even with open book
d) she had also bombed Eng Lang so we needed time to sort that out.

I am sure dropping History enabled passing of Eng Lang (as we went full out on question technique for that) and helped go up at least a grade in both of the double science as there was more time for them.

We didn't attempt to learn all the 'A' grade science as we knew she couldn't retain it all, but we aimed for the B grade stuff. (The revision guide made it quite clear what was what).

lljkk Wed 11-Apr-18 21:13:24

DS also doing ICT GCSE in yr9, we could compare notes! Roll on 14 May.
Mine doesn't have SN or SEN but he's a difficult kid. Has wasted so much time in Lack of Revision. Yours sounds enormously more engaged with doing some actual revision than mine is.

How did she do on the CAs? All the CAs are done, afaik, so in class is all revision exercises betw. now and exam date.

Floottoot Wed 11-Apr-18 22:41:35

Hi lijkk,
To be totally honest, I don't think she would have done any revision if I hadn't absolutely forced her to. She has no sense of urgency about anything, until the night before - classic ADHD trait of having no sense of the future, only the here and now.
Not sure how her CA has been. From what she says, it seems her class is behind; they've all had to go to drop in sessions at lunchtime to finish it, and she says they've only spent a handful of lessons since on the theory ( not sure how correct that is, though).
My problem is that I know next to nothing about ICT, so have had to learn alongside her. Her mock is next week, so I'm force-feeding her at every spare minute!

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Ifonlyus Thu 12-Apr-18 10:34:54

I have ADHD - diagnosed in my 40s - and as a student I stuggle(d) to retain detail and articulate what I knew in speech or writing.

Mind maps worked best for me during University exams. I drew the most ridiculous pictures to represent a fact, or theme, or specific words I had to use. As soon as I got in the examination hall, I spent 5-10 minutes drawing my mind maps on scrap paper and then I could relax into the exam.

It may be that your DD really does know the answer but she can't form the words to present the answer to someone else. Rote learning is likely to be her friend here.

Floottoot Thu 12-Apr-18 13:12:19

Ifonlyus, that's really helpful to know, thank you.
You are spot on - she just cannot organise her thoughts to put into words her knowledge. At age 4, before anyone knew she has ADHD, a teacher said she may be a child that could never get things down on paper ; a prophetic statement indeed. Her paediatric told us, at age 7, that her school days would NOT be the happiest of her life.

I've got couple of books on mind mapping, so I'll have a good look at those, thanks. She obviously has some ability to retain info because she can learn song lyrics and scripts easily, as well as dance moves, actions in plays etc, so I guess it's just a matter of finding a system that works.

She came off meds in January, at her insistence, which hasn't helped things. I've told her she needs to go back on them for exams and she has agreed, at least.

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Ifonlyus Fri 13-Apr-18 07:59:48

Pleased to hear she'll go back in meds for her exams. I hear a lit of teens stop taking their meds. I wish her the best of luck.

CuboidalSlipshoddy Fri 13-Apr-18 08:10:32

Why on earth are schools still putting year 9 or year 10 pupils in for GCSE? Unless they are going to cruise a top grade with no effort, it is just getting younger, less mature pupils to get a lower grade than they are capable of. And the ICT gcse is hardly some vital, high quality qualification leading on to challenging things either (the argument for doing maths early for strong candidates so they can do the fsmq or similar is not totally convincing, as @noblegiraffe might explain, but is better than in these cases).

Early entry. Criticised in most cases by ofsted. Rarely in pupils’ interest. More common in struggling state schools than successful private schools. Why?

TeenTimesTwo Fri 13-Apr-18 09:23:57

Our school used to do early entry for RE short course so as to give pupils a practice run before the 'real things' in y11. I don't know if it is still doing that with the new specs.

Ifonlyus Fri 13-Apr-18 15:08:30

Floottoot Just to clarify - my 'mind maps' weren't map-like at all. They were mostly stick men in situations with bizarre objects - anything that would help me remember by association. I have a good visual memory though - so that works for me.

Floottoot Fri 13-Apr-18 19:46:41

I wonder if it's a way of getting the year 9 kids into the right stage of mind before they start their 'proper' GCSE courses in year 10, which is possibly good for able students but, as you say, Cuboidal, could have a negative impact on students who need a couple of years to mature and find their best ability. Interestingly, my DD is at a decent indie, and actually they only offer the full ICT GCSE as an extra-curricula course after school next year.

I've taken DD through last year's paper today, with her writing her answers and then looking at the mark scheme and she's said several times that she's obviously "really rubbish" because she can't put down on paper EXACTLY what they're looking for. It feels a bit unfair when they haven't done any practice papers in class; she has the knowledge (I now realise) but not the exam know-how to identify exactly what is being asked if the key words to use/not use.

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Floottoot Fri 13-Apr-18 19:47:39

or the key words

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borntobequiet Fri 13-Apr-18 20:07:04

Re taking ICT in Y9 - it might be to ensure everyone gets an ICT qualification rather than offering it as an option in Y10/11. It’s worth mentioning that for any DC going on to do an apprenticeship that requires ICT, the iGCSE may not be accepted as an alternative to the standard GCSE. I know that OCR Nationals/Cambridge Nationals or whatever they have morphed into are not, so even with a high grade in these, apprentices will have to do Level 2 Functional Skills ICT.

Floottoot Fri 13-Apr-18 20:15:55

born, that is interesting to hear and leads onto my next question, which is to ask what the difference is between GCSE and iGCSE? DD is our eldest child so this is all new to us ( and both of us are old enough to have taken O levels!)

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borntobequiet Fri 13-Apr-18 20:32:16

I wish I could help but have never taught the iGCSE spec! I wouldn’t think there’s that much difference though...possibly fewer controlled assessments? Things have changed over the last 5 years... I’ve heard iGCSEs described as harder than GCSEs by some and easier by others. I do know that in my current afterlife in FE, iGCSEs are not accepted as proxy quals for GCSE for some Level 2 and 3 courses, so requiring some learners to take the Functional Skills exams.
I’m sure your DD will benefit from what she has learned, however, and well done to both of you for your determination to succeed. Good luck!

CuboidalSlipshoddy Fri 13-Apr-18 20:36:46

I’ve heard iGCSEs described as harder than GCSEs by some and easier by others

The iGCSE was taken up by private schools, who claimed that it was harder, more demanding and gave a glossier coat and a wetter nose than those nasty GCSEs being taken in the comprehensive next door.

Then it was made equivalent to GCSEs, so that it was usable by state schools.

Where it was adopted, enthusiastically, by failing schools close to floor standards, who found that it offered a greater chance of grade Cs (and, presumably, glossy coats and wet noses) for borderline C/D students.

It is something of a mystery, but the uptake of iGCSE surged massively, amongst schools for whom "high quality rigour in the preparation for A Levels" was the least of their concerns.

The most parsimonious explanation is that everyone was, in different ways, gaming various measures. The private schools were able to avoid a direct comparison with state schools, so could claim that their results were "better" in ineffable ways, even if the pass rate was the same. The failing state schools failed slightly less.

Floottoot Fri 13-Apr-18 21:35:51

Maybe we should just to back to good old K levels and CSEs??I

Thanks, Born. I really want DD to do ok, to give her a much-needed confidence boost and motivate her for year 10. It's been useful for me too to see what resources are out there and find out how I can best help her in the future.

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