Sunday, 13 April 2014

Don't Panic! Exam time is here again.

It's exam time and I'm getting calls from people who have suddenly realised it's 6 weeks until they or their kids have to take a really scary exam and they're still scoring low grades in their mocks and homework.

Oh dear. I'll be honest: I dread these calls. I've had experiences in the past when people have hoped I can help them but then cancelled lessons and wasted their precious time, still expecting a handful of lessons to act like a magic pill to help their child succeed in an exam they can't manage.

I don't mind trying to help people 'last minute' - I've even done some booster classes in the last week, and the last night, before exams. If students are willing it is amazing what you can achieve in a very short space of time. But it all falls apart if the expectation is that having lessons will solve the problem by itself.

This 6 week countdown is the last chance for some students to achieve their grade, especially those who have missed out on regular, quality teaching at school or haven't been able to study because of illness or other issues. This is the time when we can go back to basics and really work through the strange and unknown zones of Maths and English.

After this week, I start to feel a sense of panic emanating from all my GCSE and A Level students, the undercurrent of adrenaline which is inevitable once they realise what date it is and what they still have to remember, or even learn for the first time.

I think it's always important to remember that these exams do not define you for the rest of your life. They are useful, they can open doors, but they can be repeated or replaced by equivalent qualifications. They do not constitute the whole of your life's work to date, they merely show you can repeat the facts you were taught in the last couple of years.

Life is so much more than exams, even though this time of year feels like there is nothing but exams and never will anything seem as vital again.

Don't panic, unless it makes you work harder. Don't worry, unless it pushes you to put down your phone and pick up a book. Don't judge yourself too harshly and do remember this will pass, even if you don't!

And if all else fails, call me again in August and we'll beat that monster re-sit into the ground by the time it rolls around in November.

Unlike so many aspects of life, exams can be re-taken, you do get extra lives and your health points can be boosted without worlds being destroyed.

copyright Amanda J Harrington 2013

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