Revision skills

Year 11 parents’ guide to exam preparation

Parental engagement and involvement in children’s learning is eight times more important in determining their academic success than social class, according to a recent study. This does not mean, however, that you need to be an expert or a super-parent, or have to give up any other demanding responsibilities. You just need to know how best to spend the time you do have at each stage of the process.

We need parents and carers to support their children with revision, attendance and exam preparation. This guide from Rockwood Academy provides simple tips and advice on how you can best support your child now and throughout the exam period. You will find:

  • a blank revision timetable for you to plan with your child and help to monitor
  • the exams timetable for the school
  • a blank exam calendar for you and your child to complete with personalised information and dates
  • a calendar of school dates for you to incorporate in your timetable and work around if necessary
  • tips, advice and information on how to support your child through this difficult, stressful and crucial time
  • a list of exam rules and expectations from the Joint Council of Qualifications.

Remember your continued involvement will mean that your children will achieve their absolute best and either meet or exceed their potential. Right now your children need support with focus, discipline, awareness and commitment.


Specific support techniques

Setting expectations Telling your children that you expect them to do their best is very powerful and underpins all other support techniques. In addition, parents should also support the school’s own expectations as these are created to enhance learning and ensure success.

Subject awareness  As parents, you must be aware of all the different subjects that your children will be sitting exams in.

Progress and target grades  Talk to your children and their teachers about the former’s progress and their targets for each subject. (You’ll find this information on pupils’ interim and annual reports, given at parents evening.) Pupils who are assessed to be performing below their target grades in a number of subjects are ‘underachieving’, which means that they aren’t achieving what they’re capable of. There may be a multitude of reasons why your children aren’t achieving their potential, but once this is identified, you must work closely with the Academy and your children in order to identify any reasons and resolve issues.

Checking the pupil planner  Check that your children are writing in all homework or revision correctly and then following through adequately. Make sure you sign the planner each week as it is checked by form tutors.

Identifying strengths and weaknesses  You should talk to your children about their own strengths and weaknesses in subjects. You may need to follow up with a conversation with the subject teacher or head of year.

Meetings with Academy staff  Make sure you attend all meetings with Academy staff when invited to do so. This ensures that any concerns about your children’s attitude, progress or behaviour can be addressed immediately and any problems nipped in the bud.

Revision timetable  Help your children plan out their revision timetable for a week or more ahead. Make sure they aren’t wasting hours of time on the internet engaged in social or inappropriate networking.

Academy attendance  This is vital for success. One day missed from the Academy equates to a loss of five hours of dedicated learning time that pupils can never recover effectively. There is a direct link between Academy attendance and academic success.

Revision classes  Ensure that your children attend every after-Academy or weekend revision class available. These are priceless opportunities for pupils to enhance their learning. This type of supplementary learning and tuition, if provided by privately hired tutors, can cost hundreds of pounds a year.

Exam timetable Go through this timetable with your children and highlight all the exams that they’ll be sitting. Keep a copy for yourself (on the fridge), so that you’re aware of dates and times.

‘Regulations for exams’  Please go through each point of this document very carefully with your children. It is extremely important that you and they understand these regulations and the consequences for non-compliance.

Home and social environment  This plays a key role in effective learning and revision. Ensure your children have a quiet place to study/revise. Keep distractions such as social gatherings, loud music and television to a minimum. Many of our pupils who are used to spending evenings outside the home with their friends or engaging in clubs should now reduce these activities. Parents must be in control of this situation. Negotiate this with your children.

Rest and sleep This is another vital component for effective learning. Make sure that your children are sleeping and resting enough to be fully alert and functioning during the day ahead. Starting the Academy day tired or grumpy can cause problems with behaviour and learning.

Dealing with stress and anxiety  Emotional well-being plays a vital role in learning. Keep talking to your children about how they’re feeling and do your best to reassure them during periods of stress and anxiety. Offer words of encouragement and motivation. Please speak to your head of year if you’re struggling with these issues.

Nutrition  This plays an important role in your children’s ability to engage in learning. Make sure they’re eating a healthy breakfast each morning as well as eating and drinking regularly throughout the day. Help them avoid foods high in sugar and fat as these can cause lethargy or hyperactivity. Have them take vitamin and mineral supplements, which are a good way to boost the immune system during this very exhausting time.


On exam days make sure …

  • … you and your children are aware of which exams are taking place on the day. Arriving late to an exam can lead to disqualification. Missing an exam can mean that you’re asked to pay for the exam. Other exam results would be withheld in August until payment has been received.
  • … your children have a good breakfast and are fully alert by the time they arrive. To enhance alertness, it’s better for pupils to have tea or coffee, which are natural sources of caffeine, than take high-sugar energy drinks, which are banned at Rockwood Academy.
  • … your children leave home with all the necessary equipment for the exam, usually a ruler, pencils, black ball-point pens, eraser.
  • … your children leave mobile phones and other electronic devices at home, they aren’t allowed in exams.