The Thomas Hardye School
"Knowledge and Truth"

Exam Preparation - Advice for Parents

Exams, particularly important public exams, are stressful for students and probably even more for their parents. It is not easy to watch your children suffer and not to know what you can do to help.
The students who do best in exams:

  • have revised thoroughly and carefully
  • feel confident
  • have parents who take an interest in their revision.

So what can you do?

There is a great deal you can do. You can't revise for them and however much you'd like to, you can't take the exams for them, but you can be invaluable in making the exam process smooth, calm and successful.

  • Offer help as a tester; as a reader; as a source of knowledge; as a buyer (of equipment, books, rewards)
  • Make them feel you are on their side
  • Organise non study activities for them
  • Encourage them with praise and rewards
  • Work out time limits with them
  • Make their environment revision friendly
  • Force them to revise in ways you think best
  • Get involved in their stress; don`t shout back
  • Make comparisons with other students, or yourself at a younger age
  • Give them permission to do badly
  • Believe the revision lies

Seven lies they may tell you about revision.

  1. It's too early to start yet. It isn't. The most effective revision starts early and continues at a reasonable pace
  2. It's too late to start now. It's never too late to start. Better to start early but better late than never
  3. No-one else has started revising. Yes they have. They just aren't telling you. And if afterwards they tell you they got an 'A' without revision they're just boasting about how clever they are.
  4. You can't revise for...(English, Maths, RE, ICT etc, etc). Yes you can. There's always something to do; some way of helping you understand or know more
  5. You don't need to do well in... (English. Drama, RE, ICT etc). Employers and Universities prefer to see consistent results. An odd 'D' or 'E' suggests someone who is inclined to work hard only if they feel like it.
  6. Revision is boring because it's just sitting staring at a book. No, it isn't. The best revision is active lively and varied.
  7. I can revise and listen to music/watch the television at the same time. Not if it requires concentration.

Revision site

Useful links & documents

Year 11 Revision: Resources for parents and students

The following downloadable documents were shown at the Parents' Evening and are designed to help your child's revision.

For further information, please email Mr Dean at or phone 01305 266064

Support your Teenager With Literacy

Time Management

Some Quotations:
  • Some is better than none; a lot is better than too much.
  • It is unwise to do too much on one day and none on another.
  • Your concentration span is constantly changing. It depends on the time of day, what you're doing and what you've done before. Half an hour is an accepted average before you need a change of activity. Sometimes it's ten minutes, sometimes three hours.
  • Students should have one day a week free from revision, as long as they work eight hour days the rest of the week.
  • Breaks are essential, even a short 20 minute break every 90 minutes will refresh your child's mind.
  • Walking, the sea and fresh air are good for the brain. Students always forget that.

Active Learning

Variety, novelty and activity are the friends of the reviser. They keep the brain alert and fend off the worst enemy; stress-induced boredom.

Sitting reading and rereading a book or a note book is often the worst form of revision; the mind blurs, the pages drift together, anxiety about the exam takes over the mind. But too many students think it's the only revision that counts and so waste far too much time looking at pages instead of revising.

Variety of Activity is Vital – Ten possible activities:
  1. Reduce everything you know on a topic to 500 words, then to 200, then to 50, then to 10. Write those ten on a card for the morning of the exam
  2. Read one page in five (and a whole book in an hour) Read just the introductions and conclusion to chapters (and a whole book in an hour)
  3. Use the internet or buy revision guides
  4. Spend some time each day on note learning. It gets easier.
  5. Watch BBC Bitesize
  6. Do exam questions from past papers (for an hour or ten minutes or …)
  7. At the end of each day, write everything you have learned in very quick bullet points
  8. Invent and learn mnemonics
  9. Make mind maps, put them on your wall and add to them every day
  10. Make flow charts, diagrams, graphs, drawings as well as notes.

Managing Stress

Exams are stressful. So is revision. There is a constant fear of being found out, of not being good enough, of opening an exam paper and finding you can't answer any of the questions. The fear of having to face your parents, your grandparents and your friends with the word 'moron' stencilled on your forehead.

Some things parents can do to reduce stress:
  • Encourage them. Point out what they're good at. Tell them daily what they do well. Make mention of past success, current success with revision, success in previous exams.
  • If you look at their work, do not point out their errors, point out what they've done well.
  • Get them to invite their friends round. Shared revision makes it easier, makes it more fun.
  • Every now and then do something together you've never done before: go to a theme park, try sailing...
  • Don't join in the general anxiety; be a picture of serene confidence

Environment and diet

A healthy diet, important always, becomes vital at times of pressure. Fresh vegetables, fruit and water are the most important. It is best to reduce sugar and fat. Fish is supposed to be good for the brain.

Students need a place to revise which is quiet, calm and comfortable. Probably the most important is quiet.

Helping with Homework

Children whose parents take an interest in their homework do better in examinations.

But what can you do? How can you actually help? We hope that these notes might offer some suggestions.

Why do we set homework?

According to the Department of Education, 'the aim of the homework policy is to promote learning at home as an essential part of good education. Homework not only reinforces classroom learning, it also helps children and young people to develop skills and attitudes they need for successful lifelong learning. It supports the development of independent learning skills, including the habits of enquiry and investigation'.

How long should students spend on homework?

We expect to set about nine hours a week in Year 9; ten to twelve hours a week in Years 10 and 11 and about twelve to fifteen hours a week in the Sixth Form. If your son or daughter is regularly doing considerably more or less than this, something may be going wrong. Please contact the school.

Some things you can do

  • Talk to them about their homework; about what they're doing, what they find interesting in it, how long it takes them. They don't always want to talk about it, especially as they get older, but it is the way of discovering what they are doing at school.
  • Sign their homework diary. We would ask that you sign it weekly. Again, it is a good way of finding out what they are doing.
  • Find ways of making homework more enjoyable. It is possible for instance to use the Internet for additional resource material. You can come across games that can make both homework and revision much more fun than just reading from a textbook.
  • Set times and the place where homework should be done. Once students have established the habit of homework they find it much easier to settle.
  • Do make the homework environment quiet and comfortable. Make sure there are no distractions like TV sets / games consoles etc. on in the background.
  • Do encourage and praise your child when they are doing their homework. Point out what they have done well, build on their successes. Success and the feeling of success is the great motivator.
  • Approaching exam time especially, everyone is apprehensive and nervous about doing as well as they can and worried about making fools of themselves. As a parent, you can encourage your child to learn new things and develop their skills.
  • Do help them with homework but don't do it for them. Help them find answers but don't simply tell them. You might think you are helping them but you are actually putting them at a disadvantage. They will become dependent on you to a large extent. It also doesn't help teachers gauge what areas the child needs to develop.
  • Don't criticise your child if they make mistakes with their homework – everyone makes mistakes and trial and error is often the best way to learn.
  • Don't underestimate the importance of homework. If you've had a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is to work some more - but please remember that children are asked to do homework for a reason.