EXAM ADVICE (for pupils AND parents)

Our year 12s have begun their final exams in Dunluce.  Last Thursday saw their official Leaver’s Day (slideshow available here) and now they begin their final push.  The above image is a copy of the entire timetable for our pupils – if you want to see an enlarged copy you should click on it.
We know all too well the pressures that are placed on our pupils – and all year twelve pupils across the country – at this point in their education.  GCSEs are, understandably, an intensely stressful time for all involved.  We have done everything in our power to prepare them for these pressures and here is some additional advice for those of you preparing for exams.
First of all it is perfectly natural to worry.  You should be expect to be anxious  - these are, after all, important exams.  Your parents will be feeling anxious, your teachers will be feeling anxious… but don’t let your anxiety impair your work.  There are things you can do:


[source: BBC News Website]  

Brain FoodMake sure you are getting a balanced diet during the exam period.  The food you eat can affect your concentration greatly.

Stress, anxiety and late-night cramming can all affect appetite, You should maintain a well-balanced diet and aren't missing meals.
Exams generally start at either 09:00 or 13:30 - allowing plenty of time for breakfast and lunch.  Make sure you make the most of them.  You might not feel like eating, but even a piece of fruit can make a difference.
Nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens recommends making breakfast the most important meal of the day, filling up on energy-giving oats and eggs, which contain a nutrient called choline - thought to help cognitive performance and improve memory as we age.
As for revision snacks, consultant Dr Alex Richardson recommends popcorn over crisps as it is higher in fibre, so releases energy more slowly, and is lower in calories.
Make sure you are well hydrated, as mild dehydration can lead to tiredness, headaches and diminished concentration.
The European Food Safety Authority recommends eight to 10 glasses a day, but sparkling water still counts, and can be made less boring by adding lemon, lime, cucumber or mint.
Research has suggested students who take water into the exam hall may even improve their grades.

SleepGet plenty of sleep.  A good night's sleep is more useful than those couple of extra minutes revision.  And we don't mean falling asleep at your desk - get some proper sleep

It won't come as a surprise that teenagers need a lot of sleep. In fact, they need eight to nine hours a night.
But exam season can see priorities change.
Lisa Artis from the Sleep Council argues a good night's sleep is more beneficial than doing last-minute revision into the early hours.
"When you sleep well, you function and perform better and your memory is better, meaning you retain what you have revised," she said
For those too nervous to sleep, Lisa says the hour before bed time is crucial.
"Have a good routine before bed. Relaxing properly will help sleep when you're stressed or anxious. Avoid screen time - including television - and get off social media."
Lisa suggests worried students should write down their anxieties, which can "free your mind of them".
"Parents can encourage children to study out of their bedrooms," she added. "If they are sat on their bed cramming, it becomes a place associated with stress."
If another room is not an option, Lisa suggested "zoning" - creating a desk or work area that is not their bed.

Support vrs PressureParents, make sure your support isn't simply heaping more pressure on your children.  Sometimes a quiet word every now and again is very effective.

Parents should be careful how they offer support.  Parenting coach Anita Cleare says it's important to "find ways of being supportive without being imposing".
"They know the exams are important. Us ramping up the pressure is not going to help," she said.
While some parents may opt for large rewards, pending results, Anita suggested smaller rewards throughout the process.
"These can be little things like a takeaway or a trip to the cinema after a certain number of hours of revision."
Clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew has been advising a lot of concerned parents in recent months.
"I tell them to look after their teenagers almost as if you would a younger child. You have got to nurture them through this time," she says.
This can be anything from preparing their favourite dinners to offering to run them a bath.
"Give them permission to take a break from revision in between working hard."
Dr Andrew suggests writing a weekly revision timetable, with scheduled gaps for socialising or exercise.
"A moderate level of anxiety will help us perform, but beyond that, we start to be impaired by it."

Positivitystay positive.

Anita - who is also founder of the Positive Parenting Project - favours an optimistic approach during exam time.
"A failed exam is not the end of the world. It is important to put things in perspective," she says.
Anita - who has a son completing GCSEs this year - admitted parents are often more anxious than their children.
"We can't make anybody learn, you can only provide the conditions that are conducive to it."
Not all exams go well and telling your child "I'm sure it went better than you thought", isn't always helpful according to Dr Andrew.
She said it is important to validate the way they are feeling and talk through it after an exam, before helping them to move on and focus their energy on the next exam.
"Every child is different and will respond differently to pressure," she adds.