Tips for getting your child through exam season

Stressed child doing exams

Exam season is looming and it can be a fraught time for everyone – not just kids. Be it KS2 (SATs) or GCSEs, exams are a part of every child's school life at some stage. Schoolexams.co.uk asked Mumsnetters for their advice on how to support children through such testing times.

Take an individual approach

Take an individual approach

“My approach for each of my children has been different – they are all individuals and have different needs. My eldest daughter would spend all day and night revising if I let her, so I sent her out with the dog to get some fresh air and exercise. I made sure she ate regular, healthy meals. However, with my other daughter, I needed to encourage her to revise. We broke her revision into bite-size chunks to make it more manageable.”

Talk things through

Talk things through

“I intend to remind my kids to do their best – and only for the highest grades that are achievable. Make sure they're prepared with the correct equipment for the exam and get there on time.”

Know when to take a step back

Know when to take a step back

“Know when to back off and let them get on with it. I think with the amount of pressure they get from school, kids need us to be supportive but not helicopter parents. Too much pressure can backfire big-time.”

Read the question

Read the question

“Make sure they understand what they have to do in the actual exam. The amount of students who try answer all 17 questions on a one hour paper, when they only had to choose three is more common than you think!”

Feed their brains

Feed their brains

“I try to make a fuss of my son a bit by taking him homemade cakes/biscuits etc and drinks to his bedroom when he's studying, so he knows that I'm supporting him.”

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect

“Definitely get them to look at past exam papers. You don't need to know every last detail about a certain subject – you need to be able to answer exam questions on it. These are two slightly different things.”

Get involved

Get involved

“I am pretty hands-on with revision and support as I quite like learning stuff alongside my kids, especially as they've mostly done subjects I've never studied. I read their set texts so I can discuss them with them and help sort out their revision timetables.”

Accept that you won't always get it right yourself

Accept that you won't always get it right yourself

“I buy them all the revision guides, nag them to go to revision sessions, and offer to help them revise. Then I try and back off. Their reactions are a bit mixed – they tell me off for being too interested, but they also tell me off for not being interested enough. I clearly don't get it exactly right.”

Don't be afraid to crack the whip...

Don't be afraid to crack the whip...

“I went through a lot of angst over whether or not to push my daughter or whether this would backfire. I can now safely say I would encourage parents of children who are looking likely to under-perform to push their children! 15- and 16-year-olds are not necessarily mature enough to do the work they need to do, but the results will last long after they've grown up enough to regret it. They may not thank you at the time, but they will certainly be glad of the results afterwards.”

...but don't sweat the small stuff

...but don't sweat the small stuff

“Let the little things go and give a bit more slack. A tidy bedroom can wait.”

Cake solves a lot of problems

Cake solves a lot of problems

“We review topics together if it's what he needs or wants to do, but most importantly I try to instill in my child how proud I am of their hard work and achievement. I always remind him of how far he's come, despite him never thinking that he could. And we eat lots of cake.”

Embrace the unorthodox

Embrace the unorthodox

“A good idea I saw was to stick revision flash cards on the outside of the shower glass facing in.”

Take inspiration from the great and the good

Take inspiration from the great and the good

“I ensure they are aware that it is okay to fail at things, that success can come at all stages of life and that if it doesn't work out the first time, they can just keep trying. The key is to have faith in yourself.”

SchoolExams.co.uk offers past papers, expert answer explanations and exam tips to help your child achieve success in KS2 (SATs) or GCSEs.
If your kids are coming up to GCSEs, check out their special offer on Maths & English Language materials with the discounted GCSE bundle to help your kids revise and understand exam technique.