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Are you a parent dreading the exam season with your kids?

If you are a parent and are not sure how to support your child perhaps you could share this article with your child?

Studies have shown that people have poor insight into their exam preparation and thus their potential success in exams in the future. This is down to students not knowing the optimal forms of study. Our article in the Atrium blog highlights research- based techniques that improve exam performance. For example, partaking in mock exams highlights strengths and weaknesses and is a starting point. Then coming up with a study plan is key. Overall students who received metacognitive training (where metacognition is the process of thinking about one’s own thinking and learning) saw a 4% improvement in their final exam performance when compared with a control group. The students in the bottom quarter benefitted the most showing a 10% improvement compared with a control group.

Did you know that teaching someone else what you’ve covered can boost recollection? Additionally, coming up with your own questions and quizzing yourself can boost your scores. Parents can get involved in quizzing too. Researchers found that students who watched a lecture video on 2x speed did better on their test then those who watched it once at normal speed. However, to gain this benefit the 2nd viewing needs to happen just before the test.

Sleep, as we all know is imperative for memory consolidation so making sure you sleep adequately is very important. Other possible suggestions are that if you can learn hen asleep, performance could be boosted. According to the research it’s unlikely and may lead you to perform worse. Ruch and Henke concluded that even though learning while sleeping is possible, it happens unconsciously. This means that if you were to listen to facts while sleeping you would not be aware of them the next day. However, if you were to take a multiple-choice exam, you may get a gut feeling about the correct answer. Other studies have found that if unconscious learning during sleep does happen, it can obstruct conscious learning later on of the same material. Our advice is it’s best to steer clear of learning while you sleep and focus on getting a good night’s sleep instead.

What about exam anxiety? Overall, most students only experience mild/moderate exam anxiety and some angst can increase work rate/performance. There is a small number of students who suffer more. Distress during exams, used to be the primary focus but more recent research indicates that it’s the test anxiety during the exam preparation which is the main problem resulting in information being hard to recall in the test itself. Ideally the key to success is minimising the anxiety before the tests even begin and clear schedule and a revision plan helps the student organise the information they will need to recall later in the exam

Another predictor in exam success is feelings of not belonging, E.g., Edwards found that when people feel they don’t belong on a course they perform worse in exams. This can intensify into anxious and undermining feelings. Students feel like they don’t belong on a course if they don’t see other people like them in their chosen field. Thus it is crucial we find better ways to support under-represented groups and neurodivergent learners and to their sense of inclusion in their learning situations. Parents can support their kids to recognise their fit and involvement in their learning and help them understand where the learning can take them in their lives and goals.

Apart from encouraging your child to talk to you about their concerns about exams, young people can gain from talking to each other about their worries. Most people will feel the same way. As parents, we know that exams don’t always go well and it is never the end of the world. Share this with your children too. After all it is probably some of the trials and tribulations that make us all the people we are.

GB Wellbeing Officer

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