Exams are part and parcel of school life in the UK, and they are essentially used to help teachers gauge how well their students have grasped what they have learned, and identify their strengths and weaknesses. As well as this, they are a great way for the pupils to learn vital study skills and enhance their learning. However, this doesn’t always mean they are embraced, with most students seeing them as nothing more than a necessary evil. There is an inevitable element of stress that comes with taking exams, as students worry about making mistakes or failing the exam altogether. If you take the time to help your kids prepare for exams, however, you can make a smooth transition between everyday school work and test day. Here’s how.

Make Your Own Flash Cards

If you are more of a hands-on parent, making flashcards for your child can prove to be very effective. Whether the exam is for English, maths, or history, you and your child can work together to create colorful flashcards using pens, stickers, magazine cut-outs – whatever they find useful. Then, instead of taking on the role of teacher and helping them revise, let your child hold the cards and test you! This is a great way to help facts stick in their minds, especially if you offer a few wrong answers and let them correct you. They’ll probably realize they know more than they thought!

Use the Age-Old Method of ‘Look, Cover, Write, Check’

It is said that if you write something down, you are more likely to remember it, and this is because reading handwritten text activates a different part of the brain than when you are reading text in a book or on a screen. Handwriting combines visual perception, touch sensation, and the use of fine motor skills, reinforcing the natural learning process. Typically used for spelling practice, the ‘look, cover, write, check’ method is a great way for your child to learn and revise key facts that may be useful for their upcoming exam.

Practice with Some Test Papers

If your child has access to a computer, and a quiet place to study, it could be worth letting them practice some test papers online. Sites like Pretest Plus offer you the opportunity to purchase access to test papers like the CAT4, the CEM Select, and the ISEB Common Pretest. These are timed, and provide feedback upon completion, which means they will get a feel of replicated exam settings. This can help them feel better prepared when it comes to sitting the real thing.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Of course, cramming hours and hours of revision and study into every day and night isn’t going to get them anywhere if they aren’t meeting their basic needs. A good night’s sleep is just as vital to brain development, so make sure your child is getting to bed at a reasonable hour each night. Also, try to encourage them to eat a healthy diet full of ‘brain foods’ like fatty fish, dark leafy vegetables, nuts, and berries. And, on the day of the test, make sure they go to school having had a healthy breakfast. Research shows that children who eat a healthy breakfast make fewer mistakes on tests.

Lastly, if your child is showing real signs of distress about taking an upcoming exam, it’s a good idea to talk to their teacher and let them know what is going on. They may be able to help point them in the right direction as to what areas the exam will cover, or they can put measures in place that will reassure them.