If you are one of the many GCSE students dreading the arrival of the postman on exam results day , you are not alone! It doesn’t matter how hard you studied or didn’t study , that sick feeling that you get right down in the pit of your stomach is the normal reaction when it comes to exams. We have all seen the smiling, happy children on the 6 o’clock news, smugly opening their envelopes to find 7 A’s and 2 B’s shining back at them. With more and more focus on academic performance and more pressure on young people to achieve, 16 year olds could be forgiven for thinking a poor set of GCSEs is the end of the world as they know it. In these tough economic times students are being told that a good set of results is all the more important. It is no surprise that teenagers are left feeling ill at the thought of hearing their letter boxes opening!
The transition from Primary to Secondary school is one of the important milestones in every child’s life. It can often be a daunting time for children as they move from the safe, sheltered environment of the Primary classroom with one teacher to the much busier world of secondary education with multiple teachers, classrooms and homework to try to keep on top of. It is all too easy to let your child take a holiday from all things education for the whole summer. However, remember that the last few months of Primary 7 are often filled with less academic activities and it is especially important that the summer brain drain does not mean your child falls behind at the beginning of their first year.
So what can you do over the summer months to make sure your child is ready and able to cope with the realities of being a “Firsty”?
The answer really depends on your child's individual needs. If you feel your child is a happy, confident learner and their P5 report card does not flag up any difficulties or gaps in their knowledge then you may just want to wait until they have settled into P6. Many parents choose to start seeking the help of a tutor after Christmas in the P6 year. Some decide that the summer of the P5 year or the start of P6 is more appropriate. If your child has gaps in their learning then really the answer is, the sooner the better!
Learning time is crucial as there are many new concepts which need to be introduced and your child needs time to digest these and fully understand them without any stress.
English skills need to be assessed and bad habits with punctuation and spelling need to be worked on. Understanding of figures of speech such as nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives needs to be thorough. Your child must be confident skimming and scanning questions and texts.
Problem solving methods need to be worked on in maths, which is the key to success for the Transfer Test. A solid foundation in times tables, decimals, fractions and percentages is required along side a good grasp of measure, shape and the use of statistics.
A year to prepare for the Transfer Test allows time to build in revision of concepts to consolidate understanding as well as the opportunity to be introduced to past paper questions. This helps build confidence by building on success and learning from mistakes.
The aim is to maintain a steady pace of progress which peaks as the first test approaches around the first week of November in the test year.
At On Target Tuition we have a lot of experience guiding children and supporting parents successfully through this process. Our Centre Director, Martin has recently gone through the experience with his own daughter and knows the stresses and strains felt by parents and children going through the process.We begin with a free assessment from which we can pinpoint areas of weakness and tailor a programme of study designed to help them achieve their own personal targets as they move towards the test. Our lessons are 80 minutes long, which allows us to work on both English and Maths as well as past papers. Our tuition involves extensive past paper practice in both the AQE and GL Assessment papers, which is vital to improve exam technique.
For more information or advice please call us at our Lisburn centre on 9267 5071.
Go through the paper quickly reading or scanning it to get an idea of what is asked.
Leave the more difficult questions until the end. You will lose valuable time if you get stuck on a difficult question and do not move on. Get some easy marks in first and then return to the more challenging questions secure in the knowledge that you have already got a solid mark.
If you finish the paper before the time is up do not sit back and relax! It is unlikely that you have not made any mistakes and there may still be some marks to pick up. Spend every last minute looking for errors.
If the examiner cannot read your answer they will not mark it. If handwriting is not your strong point then take the time to write neatly and make sure you write your answer in the correct place.
Read the question slowly to find out exactly what is being asked of you. Highlight or mark the different parts of the question and note the different calculations needed to come up with a final answer.
What is the question asking for? If it asks for 2 decimal places or 3 significant figures, then make sure your answer includes them. Simplify when told to do so.
Check your answer is sensible. It is unlikely that the answer will contain a long string of decimals. Sometimes it is useful to estimate a rough answer and check that your final answer is not miles away from it.
This might seem obvious but it is essential for speed and accuracy in your exam to know your times tables.
These are ‘backward looking’ problems. With current values given in the question, you have to calculate some original value before the decrease/increase occurred. Again, the answers tend to be rounded numbers. If you get a string of decimals, check back in your working.
Simply check that your answer is between 1 and 0; and of course, there are no negative values.
Use your common sense. Check that your answer is between the highest and lowest values.
Unless the question asks you to, don’t round up a calculator stage until you get a final answer. You may end up with an incorrect answer even though you have implemented the question correctly.
A question asking for significant figures or decimal places indicates you should use the quadratic formula.
Check your answer. Remember a shorter side should not be a longer than the hypotenuse.
Remember to clearly label axis and in a stem and leaf diagram include a key.
Look at the pointage for each question as that will reflect how much time and working is required to achieve the answer. Remember to include all stages of your working out.
I have been teaching for 17 years. Homework time in my house is a lovely, relaxed experience in which me and my kids bond over our love of learning. I am always confident they will be going back to school fully prepared and happy that we have consolidated what they have been taught in school...
Oh how I wish the above statement was true. The truth is that often parents and homework are not a match made in heaven, even if you do possess the teaching skills I have. Why is homework so difficult and stressful for some parents and children? Me included!
I personally feel it is due to the fact you are just too close to your child. You know what you want them to achieve. You expect them to work independently and understand everything they have been taught in school. You are their parent, not their teacher and home is not school. It is where they feel they can be their true selves. If they are finding something difficult then this is where the stress is going to show and you are the person who is going to take the brunt of that stress.
However, homework is an important part of your child’s education. It gives you a chance to become involved in the learning process and a good homework routine from an early age will develop good study habits that will help your child later on in their school careers when they are sitting exams and writing coursework. There are things you can do to make the whole process easier. So don't stress!
The summer term is upon us already and the dreaded exams are lurking! If you are the parent of a teenager sitting their GCSE’s this term I am sure the end of June can’t come soon enough. We are into the final straight, but it is important to keep up their moral and the pace of their revision.
It is no surprise that taking exams is one of the most stressful times in a young person’s life, particularly as their importance may have been drilled into them for months, sometimes years, beforehand.
Some pupils and students are able to handle the pressures: they may get nervous but they cope. Other people become anxious, agitated, bad-tempered and may even become literally ill or seriously depressed. Remember that anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. But make sure that they are anxious because the want to do well and not because they want to please you!