Awaiting the arrival of test results – what could I do differently next time?
By Natalie Bailey
14 Jun
The latest round of exams is over and young people, parents and teachers will be awaiting the arrival of the results with mixed feelings.

There will be some who are confident of success, there will be others who remember, with some frustration perhaps, missed opportunities, and there may, unfortunately, be a few who are dreading the arrival of the results because they feel that they have not done themselves justice. Questions will be asked to which there can be no proper answer at this stage. Was an appropriate time devoted to revising? Should I have prepared in a different way? Hopefully, the large majority will have the satisfaction of knowing that they prepared thoroughly and did their best.

Retired teacher and Galore Park maths and science author, David Hanson, shares his experiences of this anxious time …

As a retired teacher, I remember only too well the anxieties, and satisfactions, that are associated with preparations for, and receiving the results of, the 11+, 13+ Common Entrance and other examinations. Teachers inevitably take on a share of the combined apprehensions of all their pupils, and also a share of the satisfactions when the preparations build confidence, improve performance, and eventually lead to examination success.

Parents can, understandably, be more anxious than their children, since adults probably have a clearer vision of the wider picture. The supportive, encouraging role of parents is very valuable, but a wise parent will be guided by the teacher.

It is important that a parent understands how best to contribute to the preparations, and familiarity with or, better still, possession of, the texts used in school is probably a wise place to start. If, with the teacher’s approval, parents offer to help then it is important that they are fully familiar with the material. Most of the books used in schools are readily available on the internet through Amazon or direct from publishers' websites.

Teachers all have their own preferred approaches to preparation for the examinations and this will probably include a mixture of:

  • whole class revision of key areas
  • individual, or small group, help with specific difficulties
  • periods where pupils revise on their own
  • practice on questions from past papers
  • practice, under examination conditions, on past papers 
One approach that I personally found both popular and helpful was asking small groups of pupils to tackle longer 'problem style' questions as a team, making use of their combined knowledge and skills. The groups then shared their experiences with the whole class. The realisation that there is no single 'correct' way to tackle a problem is very valuable and this encourages the resourcefulness and lateral thinking that will allow pupils to enjoy success where the immediate reaction might be "I don't know how to do it."

Thinking back to the cross-word reference in the previous blog, it is true that with practice, completing cross-words becomes easier and it is the same with answering examination questions. However, creating a cross-word or devising an examination question is both a satisfying exercise and a very good indicator of the level of achievement. The teacher or parent request "Make up a similar question." can be very productive.

Many mathematics questions involve 'everyday' experiences and parents can provide very valuable support by taking advantage of situations that arise naturally in life. This can be as simple as estimating the total cost of the supermarket shopping, or calculating an approximate number of cornflakes in a packet. This informal reinforcement can be fun for all concerned and you will be surprised how many suitable situations present themselves during a day if you are on the lookout for them!

Like solving cross-word puzzles and playing the violin, mathematics is a field in which everyone can achieve some degree of success, but it must be recognised that not all can reach the heights achieved by others. There should be no shame, or blame, if examination success is disappointing; teachers, parents and pupils should be satisfied that they have done their best.

Before we know it, the next round of examinations will be on the horizon and preparations for those will be well under way. For everyone, but especially those pupils and parents facing such a challenge for the first time, good luck!

David E Hanson
June 2016

We give thanks to David for his insightful thoughts on this topic. You can view all of David’s Galore Park titles here.

Just a few reviews written by parents who are already using David Hanson titles:

"This is an excellent choice for revisions for Science exams. It can be used for Year 7 and 8. My son loved it!"
[Science Pocket Notes]

"School recommended this to support learning. It’s a really good resource for 11+ prep."
[Mental Arithemtic Workbook Age 9-11]

Amazon reviews of Galore Park titles

Tags: 11+, 13+, Common Entrance, David Hanson, Exam Results, Mathematics, Pre-Test, Review, Revision, Science, Tips

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