Exams and tests can be a cause of great stress and anxiety. What can we do to help our children prepare for examinations? Parents have usually got a lot more experience of studying for exams than their children, so they are good people to give advice and tips.
The key to preparation is planning. Children preparing for tests should know what they have to revise and how much time they have. This is not always as easy as it sounds for children, and it is one area where parents can help a lot.
Writing a revision checklist is an effective way of listing everything that needs to be done. Seeing it on paper helps children get a clear sense of the job that lies ahead. Children can use this revision planner to plan what subjects they are going to study the following week.
Weekly Revision Planner (PDF, 31KB)
They can then use this revision timetable to make a detailed plan for each day. The revision timetable lets children plan their study periods (20-30 minutes) and their breaks (5-10 minutes).
Revision Timetable (PDF, 30KB)
Reading through notes
Staring at the page is not the same as studying. Children need to do more than read and remember. Here are some helpful tips to help students remember the information they are reading:
- use highlighter pens to draw attention to key words
- re-tell the information in the notes in your own words
- take notes on your notes
- close your book and explain what you have just read to someone else
Your child may be taking one of these English examinations at school, or you may wish to choose one of them for your child to enter. Here is some information about some of these examinations.
These are speaking exams. Students have a short conversation with an examiner. There are 12 levels. Here is a link to some sample videos of tests:
These exams test reading, writing, speaking and listening. There are four different levels. Students do portfolio work, sit a written test and have a spoken interview.
Here is a link to a video about the tests:
Cambridge ESOL: KET and PET
These exams have three sections: reading and writing, listening, and speaking. The speaking part is done in pairs. KET is Common European Framework (CEF) level A2; PET is CEF level B1.
Read more about KET
Read more about PET
Cambridge ESOL Young Learners English: Starters, Movers, Flyers
These exams have three sections: listening, reading and writing, and speaking. The exams are designed for children aged between 7 and 12. Each exam is set at a different level: Starters is just below level A1, Movers is at level A1, and Flyers is set at level A2 (Common European Framework).
Read more about the exams:
The Oxford English Testing website http://www.oxfordenglishtesting.com is an excellent resource for students preparing for exams. As well as having placement tests and exam practice for KET, PET and other exams, the site offers tips and feedback on your answers.
Studying can be a lonely experience. If children do not understand what they have to revise it can also be very frustrating. There is nothing wrong in asking for help – in fact that is the smart thing to do. If you cannot provide the help yourself, think about others who could. Your child's teacher is the ideal person to talk to, of course. But you could encourage your child to ask classmates or their older brothers or sisters, or you could find a neighbour or friend who might also be able to help.
You can help your child prepare for success at exams by practising exam tasks in exam conditions. Get hold of past papers and time your child as they complete each section. This will help your child become familiar with the exam tasks – and also to become better at managing the time available during an exam.