Exam Fever Strategy

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Jun 7, 2010

By Lianne Castelino    www.whereparentstalk.com

Exam week kicks off today in our household. My 12-year-old son will write 6 final exams in 8 days as part of the home stretch of grade 7.

It’s a fascinating exercise to watch how different children manage this process.

Because procrastination is a genetic condition in our family, I reminded him about a month ago to come up with a “strategy for studying”. And “whatever you do, don’t wait til the last minute, went the friendly reminder.

To his credit, he came home and compiled all kinds of study notes, on the computer. A four-finger typist, that had to have taken a concerted amount of effort and time, not to mention concentration to bang out.

As part of our “parenting strategy to manage a 12-year-old, weв’ve handed off all responsibility for school-related work and activities directly to him.  Just the odd quick glance to see that work
is completed that boil down to random, infrequent checks.

This is a far cry from grade 6 and earlier when the school agenda and the work were checked every night.

They have to learn responsibility and accountability is the logic here.

One thing that is always hard to predict though, is how a child will manage their emotions. Does stress force them to focus better or will it freak them out and get them all nervous and confused.

I fully remember exams as a teen. I remember consciously deciding not to show up till just before the exam started to avoid meeting all my friends and other people in the hallways who clearly hadn’t studied and would do nothing more than confuse issues, concepts, review notes and entire chapters because of their lack of study. You know the old, well isn’t it this answer? The last thing I needed was to be confused by some other kid before walking into the exam room.

My son is a calm, laid back boy. He can be phenomenally stressed out but you would never know it looking at him. With that in mind, I suggested we sit down together and do a review last night just in case he had any questions. His first exam is math.

It was an interesting process. I discovered his look like thus needed to be fixed. The concepts in math were fairly complex, which made me thankful that I am done school! And while he knew understood the concepts, he needed to be quicker on the execution especially during a timed event.

He thanked me for helping him and for sharing my ancient tactics and techniques. He realized that having an exam strategy was also key.

“Write down all the formulas first, went the friendly suggestion. Read the question twice cause you never know how the question will end, even if you’re confident about how it began. And for goodness sake check your answers. There is only one right answer in math.

Three little nuggets that he hopefully uses, but one never knows.

I did realize it gave him comfort to get a different perspective on things, to not feel alone in his studying endeavour and to have a plan.   All of which is much-needed support for a young boy especially when it is gorgeous outside with the Stanley Cup finals on tv.

What will be interesting to watch is how much of that little lesson he will or will not apply to the next 5 exams.


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