How to help your family cope with exam season

So the Easter holidays are over and the kids are back at school or college. This means two things. Firstly, we will probably have some lovely weather and everyone will moan that they can’t enjoy it. Secondly – and one of the reasons they can’t enjoy it – is that it’s exam season!

And what an exam season it will be! 2022 is the first year that exams have taken place since 2019, due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. After some confusion in 2020, where A-level grades were initially based on a government-generated algorithm, both A-level and GCSE grades were eventually determined by school-assessed grades. In 2021, teacher-assessed grades were used.

But this year, exams are back again. There are a few adjustments to take into account time lost during the pandemic, such as reduced content and advance information on exam topics. But apart from that, exams will run as normal.

Both A-level and GCSE exams will begin on 16th May and finish on 28th June. So if you have one or more sons or daughters doing either set of exams, it could be a stressful few weeks for you all. But what can you do to help?

In this article we look at seven ways in which you can help your family cope with exam season.

Understand what they have to do

One of the first things to do is to make sure that you understand what your son or daughter is doing. You need to know:

  • The subjects they are studying;
  • Which exam board(s) the school or college is using;
  • How many exams they have for each subject;
  • What is their exam timetable;
  • Whether they have completed any relevant coursework if applicable;
  • Which are the subjects they are most worried about, and why.

Teenagers are often reluctant to give information, so you may need to find some of this out from their school or college. But you do need to have a good understanding of what they have to do in order to be able to help them.

Help them plan a realistic revision timetable

Your son or daughter may already have their own timetable, and you definitely don’t want to waste any time doing something that they don’t need to do. But it’s worth checking it to see if they have covered everything and that there isn’t one subject that they are leaving till the last minute.

You may also need to help them with their timings. For example, if they are on study leave it’s a good idea to get up at normal school time rather than having a lie in then working late into the evening. Also ensure that they are taking plenty of breaks, as this will help to keep their minds fresh. 

Overall, it can be a good idea to stick moreorless more or less to the school or college timetable that they would still be doing if they were not in an exam year.

Give them lots of support and care

This leads on from the above ideas about the timing of their days. One of the biggest ways you can help is to ensure that they are given lots of practical support and care during exam time. Make sure they are eating regularly and have plenty of healthy food rather than too many snacks. Also ensure they have the opportunity to get regular exercise and a good night’s sleep. 

Try to shield them from as much extra stress as possible during exam time. And, if you feel they are becoming too stressed about their exams, it may be worth encouraging them to seek help, either from the school or college, or their GP.

Ensure they have all the resources they need

Teenagers can often be disorganised and you may be able to help a bit here, without piling on the pressure. Check that they have all the revision resources they need. This may be a combination of their own notes, online teaching resources, text bookstextbooks and past exam papers. 

If they complain that there are things missing, encourage them to ask a friend or check with the school or college. It will be too late to do this after the exams! So you need to give them a gentle nudge to do it now.

Provide them somewhere suitable to study

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, many families were cooped up together, trying to juggle work, home-schooling, childcare and everyday living all under one roof. Exam season can feel a little bit like that too. Your son or daughter needs to revise, but you also need to get on with your normal daily routine, as well as try to do all the extra bits and pieces for them that we’ve just been looking at.

It can be a big help with this if they have a place where they can study. This might be their bedroom, but it’s difficult to know what they’re up to in there, and whether they are really studying or not. It can also be unsettling for them if their room – their little patch of territory in the home – suddenly becomes a place of stress rather than of having fun and chilling out.

So if possible you may want to temporarily give them another place to study. Perhaps a spare bedroom, or dining room, or an outbuilding if you have one. Another solution is to see if a family member or friend has somewhere that they could use during the day. If any of these do work for you, the advantage of a dedicated study area is that they can then leave that area and switch off from revision for a while.

Build in regular treats

When your child is not studying, they need things to look forward to. The longest period their exams will go on for is 6 weeks – and that’s if they’re unlucky enough to have one right at the beginning of the exam window and another right at the end. So it’s not that long really; but to your son or daughter it will feel like forever!

Give them a bit of a boost by checking their exam and revision timetables and building in some treats whenever you can. Depending on the age of your child, this might be a night out with friends, a sleepover, a family movie and pizza night, a trip to the cinema or some kind of sporting event. But if you can mark regular treats on their revision timetable, it can help motivate them to keep going a little bit longer.

Ask for help if you need it

Last but not least, let your child know that they can ask you for help at any time. We have already discussed getting help with undue stress, revision resources and practical day to day living. But they may have other needs or concerns that you are not aware of, so you need to make it clear that you are always there for them.

And this applies to you too. It can be hard to be the one who is always positive and smiling, and patiently fulfilling the needs of your son or daughter. You have your own needs too, and the rest of life continues to move on despite exam season. 

So if you are beginning to feel frazzled, it’s much better to talk to family or friends, or have a fun night out to let off steam. Anything that will help you to share the load, feel refreshed and stay happy is really important, not just for you but for your whole family too. 

If you have any financial concerns during this time, remember that Loans 2 Go offer low apr loans that may be able to help take the pressure off.

If you can manage to do some of the above, you will be providing wonderful support for your child during exam season. You can then look forward to their results day in August (Thursday 18 August: A Levels, Thursday 25 August: GCSEs), knowing that whatever the outcome, you’ve helped them to do their best.

Good luck this exam season! For more lifestyle and financial tips check back here with us soon at Loans 2 Go.