Parent Zone
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Supporting study

​Helping your child prepare for exams

It is important that young people are supported at home and school to prepare them well for Unit Assessments, prelim exams and other internal assessments as well as external exams.

The type of support required may depend upon the course assessment, which will normally be carried out using one or two assessment methods from seven possible types:

  • assignment
  • case study
  • practical activity
  • performance
  • portfolio
  • project
  • question paper/test

Regular attendance throughout the year will help to ensure that your child keeps up with course work and homework. If they do fall behind, through illness perhaps, do speak to the school about any support which can help them catch up.

Talking to your child to reassure and encourage them and taking an interest in what they are doing will help them get through what can be a stressful time and will help them to do their best.

Managing their time

There are so many calls on a young person's time that it is often difficult for them to decide where to start and what to do next.

Preparing for assessments and exams is often something that some children only begin to think about in the last few weeks (and sometimes only days) before the event.

Encourage your child to start revision in good time to avoid cramming and panic.

Help your child to plan a realistic timetable of study for each subject. Their school may have given them a revision planner which can be used to plan their own time. Subject teachers will give students information on when the Unit Assessments will take place.

Getting organised

  • Talk to your child and help them decide on a fixed area at home where they can study with the least distractions. Make sure that they have everything they need eg pens, pencils, paper, notebooks
  • Ensure that snacks and water are close by to prevent any unnecessary distractions and make sure the study area is warm and well lit.
  • Speak to the rest of the family, particularly younger members, about respecting this study area and as far as possible trying to avoid interrupting.
    If it is difficult to study at home perhaps your child could make use of the local library or ask your school if they can help.
  • Encourage your child to get their notes in order for each subject before starting. Having notes organised into topic areas for each subject may be helpful.
  • Check the dates of each exam and keep a record of them somewhere you can see them easily. Your child’s school will give your child an exam timetable with the subjects being presented at your school. You can access the full exam timetable on the SQA website. Your child can also use the SQA Personal Timetable Builder facility to create their own timetable.

Remember: Sometimes an exam is on a public holiday. The exam will definitely take place on that day and there will be no opportunity to sit it on another day. Schools and colleges are allowed to change the start times of exams slightly, so you should double-check the times of your examinations with your school / college. Courses will typically also have a second assessment element e.g. an assignment or a practical activity, depending on the subject being studied (or some courses may not have an exam element at all). Your child’s school will be able to give you more details on what this involves and the timing of any assessment.

Tips to encourage studying

  • Exam times can be stressful so encourage your child to take breaks. Hour long revision sessions with short regular breaks of 10 minutes are effective.
  • They may prefer to complete each task and then build in a break rather than stick to definite time slots. It’s the quality of work that is important.
  • Young people often focus best earlier in the day or early evening so encouraging them to study at these times may be beneficial.
  • Your child might find it useful for you to read through revision notes with them. Asking them about what they have learned in their revision may be useful.

Keeping well

  • Encourage your child to get plenty of sleep. This is particularly important the night before an exam as it will help them perform better.
  • Encourage your child to eat well. On the morning of an exam encourage them to have a breakfast, or lunch if the exam is in the afternoon.
  • Help your child to avoid any unnecessary anxiety or panic by making sure they are in plenty of time for each exam and have everything they need for it eg pens, pencils.
  • Encourage exercise.

Useful websites

Revision guides

  • Study guides: SQA Study Guides are designed to help candidates prepare for their exams no matter what subject they are studying.
  • BBC Bitesize: Revision guide: Resources and information to support school work and homework.
  • National 5: Revision in a Nutshell - Downloadable revision guides to 20 of the most popular subjects at National 5.
  • Higher revision guides: Downloadable guides explaining what learners need to know in order to prepare for new Higher exams in specific subjects.<
  • Pointers for Parents and Pupilspointersforparents.pdf - Supporting Learning and Revision (PDF): Revision tips and essential information from the National Parent Forum of Scotland.

Sample papers

  • Past question papers: Download SQA National Qualification question papers for Intermediates, Highers and Advanced Highers - completely free of charge.
  • National 5 specimen question papers: These illustrate what the National 5 exams will look like, what candidates are expected to do, and how SQA will mark them.
  • Higher specimen question papers: These llustrate the standard, structure and requirements of the question papers learners will sit from session 2014-15.

Exam dates

Candidates with additional support needs/disabilities

'Nationals in a Nutshell' guides

Related links

SQA support for parents
Information to help you support your child if they are studying for National Qualifications exams.

 

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