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Exams: Prep Tips For GCSEs and A Levels -Advice for Parents

UK Blogs Parents 6 min read
Girl studying for exams and puts head down on textbook

Exams can be a stressful time for kids, and parents can often feel at a loss as to how best to support them. This blog post provides some advice on how to help your child prepare for exams, from setting goals to managing stress. Follow these tips to help your child achieve their best, and come out of the exam season with their confidence intact.

For folks in the UK, GCSE and A Level exams are important exams that can determine what kind of university your child gets into, and ultimately what kind of career they will have. Of course you’ll want to do everything you can to help them prepare for their exams.

If they're feeling stressed, they’re not alone. Millions of students across the country are preparing for GCSEs and A Levels, and for many, this will be their first experience of sitting formal exams. It's natural to feel nervous about tests, but with adequate preparation, they can boost their confidence and score their best marks.

Here are some tips on how you parents can help them get ready for these big exams.

1. Ensure they get plenty of rest and exercise in the weeks leading up to exams

Exams can be a stressful time. Between studying for hours on end and worrying about the results, it's easy to let one's physical health fall by the wayside. However, making time for exercise and getting enough rest is crucial if they want to do their best on exams. Exercise helps to improve focus and concentration, both of which are essential for success in exams.

It’s really important to get enough rest, as this helps to prevent burnout and ensures that they will be able to think clearly on exam day. So to set your child up for success in their GCSEs or A Levels - take special care of them in the weeks leading up to the big day.

2. Incorporate a balanced diet and drink plenty of water

Having a healthy diet helps to improve focus and concentration, and it also provides the energy needed to power through long study sessions. Tweak your grocery shopping list to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting sugary snacks and drinks. Having the ‘good stuff’ readily available will encourage the kids to make healthy choices.

Drinking plenty of water is also important, as it helps to keep the brain hydrated and functioning at its best. Drinking water will also help them to concentrate and it will keep their energy levels up. In the weeks leading up to exams, they should aim to eat healthily and drink plenty of water to give themselves the best possible chance of success. Just remember, a healthy body leads to a clear mind!

3. Make a study schedule and stick to it

One way for the kids to stay on track is to make a study schedule and stick to it. With such a large amount of material to cover, it can be difficult to know where to start. They can begin by identifying which subjects they need to focus on. Look at their syllabus and identify which topics will be covered on the exam. Then they can block out time in their calendar for studying each of those topics, setting aside some time each day to revise.

Make sure they include breaks in the schedule so they don't get overwhelmed, and allow some flexibility in case unexpected events come up. Most importantly, ensure that they do not leave everything until the last minute - spaced out revision is proven to be more effective than cramming. So if they want to ace their exams, help them to plan their study timetable!

Luckily, we’ve got the perfect free resource for you and your child to plan their revision and shine their brightest this year! Check out the Ultimate Revision Planner here.

4. Use Revision Workbooks

One way to prepare for exams is to use revision workbooks. GCSE and A Level revision workbooks are specifically designed to help students succeed. These handy workbooks are brilliant for helping them to focus on specific topics, identifying areas that need improvement and tracking their progress over time. They also provide concise summaries of key topics, as well as practice questions and mock exams.

Revision workbooks can be a great way to help them focus and get the most out of their revision time. They provide a structured approach to revision, with specific tasks and goals for each session. This can help them make the most of their time and ensure that they cover all the necessary information. They also help to develop good study habits and time management skills.

So if your child is looking to give themselves the best chance of success, make sure to add GCSE or A-Level revision workbooks to the study arsenal.

5. Use past papers to practice exam questions

When it comes to exams, practice makes perfect. By working through past papers, students can get a feel for the types of questions that are likely to come up, as well as the level of difficulty. This is especially important for GCSE and A Level exams, as the papers are often very different from what they may be used to in their regular classes.

Furthermore, by doing practice questions under exam conditions, they can better prepare themselves for the time pressures of the real thing. Of course, simply doing past papers is not enough - they still need to put in the effort to understand the concepts behind the questions. However, using past papers as part of a revision plan can give them a significant boost come exam time.

6. Remind them that you love them unconditionally

Exam results are often used as a measure of competence in our current education system, but they may not always reflect what your child is capable of. There are always raging debates about whether testing is counter-productive and stifles creativity and innovation.

Teens and adolescents go through a rollercoaster of emotions in even a single day, that’s the way their brains are built! Exam stress can take a huge toll, so focus on rewarding your child for their efforts, and let them know that whatever happens, they’ll be ok.

Nobody wants to have to take resits, but your child should understand that they are always a fallback option. Plenty of people didn’t get into their first choice college or uni, but ended up having a blast and embarking upon a rewarding career anyway. Reassure your child these exams do not represent a go / no-go result. There is always a way forward and they’ll be just fine in the end. And PS that you love ‘em!

In summary

As we mentioned earlier, "practice makes perfect" I’m sure we’ve probably all heard this saying before. This is definitely true when it comes to exams. The more they practice, the better they will perform on test day. They've got this!

Just remember to encourage your kids to stay calm and focus on their goals and remember these core tips :

  • make a study plan
  • get plenty of rest
  • take care of themselves
  • remember no matter what happens, they’ll be ok in the end

The exam season can be a challenging time for kids, but with the right preparation and support from their parents, they can come out of it feeling confident and successful. We hope that our tips have helped you to understand what your child needs from you during this time and given you some ideas on how to help them achieve their best. Good luck!

good luck written on exam booklet

Don’t forget to check out the PlanSocial Bookshop. We have a wide range of revision books for both GCSE and A Level exams*, so you can be sure your child is getting the best possible preparation.

*Please note that PlanSocial may receive a small commission for any purchases you make from the bookstore.

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