Supporting the GCSE effort

The GCSEs are under way and the pressure is on…What is the role of parents?

GCSE Exams


We’re one week into the GCSEs and daughter two is cracking. She has been impressively writing revision cards for what seems like a year.

I’ve peaked my head round her bedroom door every now and again and there she is sitting with her BTS rabbit ears on amid a waft of incense sticks. It being daughter two, the room is full of half completed art projects which occupy her breaks from revision time. Currently, she is midway through painting some old toy storage boxes pink, which apparently is a BTS colour. BTS, for the uninitiated, are a Korean pop group consisting of seven boy-men.

The other day I was held in a body lock and forced to watch many of their interviews until I could name each member of the band and say something about them. Daughters two and three are, it is fair to say, nuts about BTS. BTS dominates most of their conscious and subconscious thoughts, leaving very little room for quadratic equations.

Both daughters are currently enduring exam season. Daughter three has Year 9 exams which her teachers have called ‘mocks’ in an effort to put the fear of God into the students and make them think they will be taking GCSEs tomorrow. Daughter three says the students are escorted individually to their desks in the exam hall. “They are taking it way too seriously, mum,” she said. The first day was music and maths. “I guessed every answer in music,” said daughter three, not the words you want to hear, but she has, fortunately, not put music as one of her options. If music included in-depth study of the works and dance moves of BTS she would get a 9 [A* in old money].

Daughter two had religious studies on Monday and disappeared in the early evening to her room. I went in to check on her and found her fast asleep in bed. An hour later she stumbled into her parents’ room and slumped onto the bed. “I feel so sick,” she said. It turned out she had period pains. Paracetamol was administered and a hot water bottle brought. She made it into the living room for some chips. She was supposed to be doing maths revision. Daughter two hates maths. I have tried, over the years, to portray things like algebra in a mysterious, artsy light, but daughter two has resisted.

I asked her how she was revising. “I’m doing maths test papers,” she said. “Do you get any of the answers wrong?” I asked. “Yes.” “Do you know why?” I asked. “No,” came the answer. I explained that just doing tests and not understanding why the answer is wrong may not be the best revision tactic. I suggested we go through some test papers before the exam. That was before the period pains. I could see it was not looking like she would get round to a test paper any time soon and she had mentioned that she had forgotten everything we did on quadratic equations a few weeks ago.

So I was up at dawn googling quadratic equations again. I think I understand them, but I couldn’t for the life of me work out the number in the middle. It didn’t help that I was doing so while facing a barrage of questions about Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief [“I think I may have ADHD, mum, because I just can’t keep still,” said only son who is keen to think that he may in fact be a demi-god].

Daughter two looked slightly perkier and seemed to be taking in quadratic equation advice. “Just remember to breathe and read the question properly” was my last tip as she headed off. There are still three weeks more of GCSEs to go…

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