Exam season

We’re entering exam season and households across the land are battening down the hatches.

Students taking GCSE Exams


Exam season is looming. It’s a testing time for everyone involved, including parents. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells a lot of the time. Offers to help with testing can bring hissed responses. Talk about taking breaks elicits screams of ‘you don’t understandddd’. Or you may be having to crank up the pressure because your child has checked out on the study front. You may even be facing a combination of all of these things, all within an intensive three-week period.

It’s no use harking back to the days you were at school. You are just showing your age. The whole thing has changed completely since then, they will tell you. Your experience is irrelevant. Practical advice like ‘read the question’ will be flung back in your face. They’ve probably had this drilled into them a million times by the teachers. Your role is simply to be on hand with food, providing taxi services and performing hotel duties [picking up clothes, plates, cups, doing laundry etc]. It’s a test of resilience for the whole family.

And that’s just the GCSEs and A Levels. We’ve got year 9 exams in our house in two weeks’ time. It’s only son’s first foray into Serious Exams [he missed out on the SATs due to Covid – at least I have absolutely no recollection of them]. I’ve seen the Year 9 timetable: it’s colour-coded and looks fairly terrifying. The good news is that only son seems to be taking it in his stride, but, as he doesn’t talk a lot at the moment [he’s going through an acute emo phase], he may be absolutely petrified.

What is interesting is how different children in the same family take a very different approach to exams. Daughter one put herself under tremendous pressure as leader of the pack. She set the bar high. Daughter two was much more relaxed. She did up the ante before the GCSEs, but halfway through lost interest and checked out. Daughter three was very nervous about the whole thing, but that was during Covid and after a very traumatic year.

Daughters two and three had to do their final school exams under extreme emotional duress. They’re out the other side now and they’ve shown exceptional strength. At the end of the day, they know that there are much more important things in life than exams.

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