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Examinations: How to help your teenager

Examinations are fast approaching for our Year 10 and 11 students (21 – 26 June) and trial examinations for Year 12 students will arrive before we know it (Term 3 holiday period). Students will naturally have some positive anxiety surrounding these examinations as they should be keenly focused on best preparing for these assessments. However, this does not have to be a time of high stress. Rather, it is a positive opportunity to consolidate learning whilst also preparing for the final Year 12 SACE examinations.

Pulteney staff have been, and will continue to, teach and prepare our students for these examinations. We shall also continue to monitor student wellbeing and ensure that students recognise that their value is not a reflection of the academic results achieved within their examination, but rather pride should be based on their determined preparations to achieve their personal best.

I provide the following as a means for parents to assist their teenager with exam preparation, ease pressure and maximise opportunities for success.

Exams need not be approached in a sole-specific way to maximise success; simply reading and re-reading already taught information is not effective. Three phases have been identified as having the best chance for success: learning, revising and applying.

Learning

In this phase students are still encountering new information and the focus is on understanding it. You can help your teenager by letting them tell you about what they have learnt each day. By doing this, students will consolidate and obtain ‘deeper’ learning whilst also providing an opportunity for positive interaction between parent and child.

It has been argued that learning is best done in “chunks” of time - a solid 50 minutes rewarded with a 20 minute break is a pattern that works for many. But it is equally vital for teenagers to undertake some ‘down time’. With this in mind, exercise breaks and time to simply enjoy personal passions or interests is just as important.

Revising

Many teenagers will have already discovered how they best revise. Nevertheless, irrespective of their preferred mode of revision, all students will undoubtedly require a quiet space, free from distractions including visitors, phones, television and social media. Once in a quiet, focused environment, students are encouraged to visualise and simulate the examination process. Simply put, the single most effective way to master exams is to practise them. Past exam papers are easily obtained and we encourage your child to complete them in an exam like situation. Students should be conscious of time during this process and parents are encouraged to help their child pace themselves and get to know how much they can write in the allotted time frame.

Applying

The hours preceding an exam are very important. You want your child to be completely prepared and focused. Moreover, it is imperative and beneficial that they are positive in attitude. Ultimately the best way to produce this state of mind is through implementing a solid revision strategy (outlined above) but also ensuring that your child is consuming healthy food, undertaking some exercise and getting plenty of sleep.

I wish our students all the very best for the upcoming examinations and remind them that Pulteney provides numerous academic and wellbeing resources should they need or wish to access them.

Nicholas Brice

Head of one ninety