Your sons and daughters now have back all their exam results from the school end of year exam week. No doubt there will be some subjects where your child had a pleasant surprise and did better than expected and some where your child was disappointed with the result. Whichever it is, when you talk to them about the exams, the natural tendency is to ask how they did compared with other students or compared with the ‘average’ and to praise (or not) accordingly.
Please try to take the discussion beyond this to get your child to reflect on:
1. What they did well.
2. What they need to improve in the future.
This is the real learning from any test or exam. Teachers have gone through the exams in class and gone over what was done well and not so well and why, so your child should have answers to each of these two questions. Sometimes it is to do with exam technique – spending the right amount of time on each question in relation to the marks available, reading the question carefully, reading the exam instructions carefully. Sometimes it is about revision – how effectively a student has learnt the material and then the ability to apply what they have learnt to the particular questions in the exam.
All this is particularly important for Y10 and Y12 students. The questions in their end of year exam were taken from or modified from past (I)GCSE/IB exam papers, so they are an excellent practice for the real thing next May. The next opportunity for a similar practice will be the mock exams next January. If your child has ‘messed up’ badly on a particular exam – doing the wrong option, doing the wrong number of options, missing out a whole page, using the wrong case study etc., this is, in some ways, a good thing, because that’s one big mistake that they won’t do on the final external exams next year.
I know that many parents like to reward their child in some way or form for doing well or trying
hard on their exams. If the reward was shifting to being about really learning from the exams, this could really make a difference to how well they do next time.