Preparing home-schooled children for exams


Examinations can be stressful, both for children and for parents, but when your child is home-schooled, it can feel even more difficult to ensure they’re as prepared as possible for upcoming tests.

In our recent survey, almost a quarter of parents felt unsure of how to best prepare their child for a test, and a further 40% observed that their child became noticeably stressed when an exam was approaching.

However, if you’re confused, concerned or a bit of both, there’s no need to worry. Here at Oxford Home Schooling we’ve put together our top tips for successful exam preparation, so you can help your child revise efficiently and effectively to achieve the very best results.

Exam preparation

The key to avoiding an overly stressful revision period is to start early, and to start out small. It’s easy for a child to feel overwhelmed – particularly if they have more than one exam – so plan your time in advance.

For example, for examinations in May we suggest starting revision at the end of March at the latest. The more exams they have, the earlier children should begin to prepare. Overcramming can have a negative effect, and add unnecessary pressure.

When it comes to revision itself, try mixing things up by incorporating various revision techniques into your revision calendar. While creating notes to study can be a great way to learn, many children also respond to methods that are more hands-on or vocal.

Ask your child to recite facts aloud, find or write revision songs to help them remember key facts and figures, and make revision fun with interactive tests and educational games. Alongside the resources provided in our course packs, your child may also enjoy using websites such as BBC Bitesize.

Finding the right balance

Create a revision timetable with your child at the start of their exam preparation period so you’re both clear how you’re going to tackle the workload.

Allocate a specific colour for each individual subject, so you can both see how much time with be spent on every exam. If your child finds something particularly difficult, like maths for example, make sure their timetable reflects this by adding extra revision sessions.

Begin their day with the hardest subjects, while they’re alert, and keep certain elements of the timetable flexible too – like adults, some days are simply less productive than others. Just adjust the timetable to reflect this, and carry on!

While revision is important, balance is key to success. In order to keep your child calm, happy and alert throughout you should add plenty of leisure time into their timetable. Add a ten-minute break after every 30 or 40 minutes of revision, try not to exceed five hours of study a day, and don’t be afraid to treat your child to a lie-in or an early finish once or twice a week.

Mock exams and rewarding results

Not only are mock exams a great revision tool, they can also help children to familiarise themselves with working under pressure and towards a tight time limit. Your child will be sitting their exam in a centre selected by you, and many parents worry that their child won’t be able to adjust to such a different location.

There’s no doubt examination centres can be daunting, and while it’s unlikely you’ll be able to take your child to the centre prior to their first exam, you can try your best to mimic the environment at home.

Empty a room in your house of distractions, allocate a specific spot with proper seating for the exam to take place and make sure a clock is visible at all times. You can act as the exam invigilator throughout, announcing the start of the paper and alerting your child when only 10 minutes of the test remain.

No matter how the mock exam went, reward your child for completing the paper. Don’t launch straight back into revision – spend some time outdoors, watch a film or give them the afternoon off to meet friends.

If your child is currently enrolled in an Oxford Home Schooling course and you wish to speak to a member of our team, or you’re a parent considering home schooling for your child, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team. We’ll be delighted to help.

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