Exams are scary events for most children, and for home schooled children who will usually be taking exams in a big study hall when they are used to studying one to one in their living room or bedroom, exams can be an especially scary event! This article looks at ways to help your home schooled child to prepare for exams, and help to achieve their best results on the day. It focuses on public exams such as GCSEs and A levels, but its advice can be adapted to any other kind of exam.
The Importance of Preparation for Exams
Preparing for exams is the most important part, since a prepared student will feel more relaxed and confident in the exam setting. Start preparing as early as possible, and be sure your child knows exactly what to study, i.e. the possible subjects that might come up on the exam paper. Check the syllabus, look over all subjects studied, make a list of topics, and highlight the ones that your child feels less confident about. Include in the list books to read, facts to learn, essay topics to focus on – even though it might look big, that will make crossing items off the list all the more satisfying!
Practical Preparation for Exams
When studying for exams, provide your home schooled child with a well lit, quiet, cool room and ensure he or she knows you are around if necessary, but do not nag or pressurise. Encourage your child to learn a little, regularly, rather than ‘cramming’ – that is, trying to learn everything at the last minute. Encourage active revision, which might include reading aloud, doing past exam papers, writing practice answers to predicted questions, fill in the blank exercises, pop quizzes, using flashcards, brief review sheet that you can paste in a place like the bathroom and read while brushing teeth, etc.
Emotional Preparation for Exams
Since your child may not have studied in a large scale classroom situation, a public exam setting in a college or school might seem scary. Help your child to think about the situation in advance, so he or she does not ‘freeze’ on the day, and ask the exam centre if you can pay a visit so your child knows what to expect. If other home schooling children are taking exams, it can be a good idea to register at the same exam centre to lessen the ‘fear factor’ of the exam location.
Have a few ‘dry runs’ where a child has the correct amount of time to complete a past paper, perhaps the previous year’s, in a silent room with no distractions and, if possible, an invigilator.
Ensure your child arrives at the exam feeling prepared for the day, by giving him or her a healthy breakfast, arriving early so there is no stressful rushing on the journey, having had a good night’s sleep the previous evening, and being well prepared in terms of materials required for the exam. This might include pens, pencils, reading or distance glasses, a calculator, exam card or registration number and photo ID, if required, a see-through bag to put it all in, and a small clock if desired and allowed.