How Can Parents And Carers Make A Difference With Homework And Exams?

Parental involvement can make an enormous difference – perhaps between success and failure or between 9-1 grades.

Parental support is eight times more important in determining a child’s academic success than social class, according to a new study. The Campaign for Learning found that parental involvement in a child’s education can mean the difference between a 9 and an ‘also ran’ at GCSE (TES, 10 October 2003)

So what can my role as a parent be?

Your role may include some or all of the following:

  • Attendance monitor – making sure your child attends school and on time. They will learn more when they are in school making the most of lessons.
  • Partnership – working with the school, attending parents evening, information evenings and asking questions about homework, coursework and so on with teachers.
  • Resources bank – providers of the tools for learning. A place for young people to study, pens, paper, books etc…
  • Funding officer – paying for the tools for learning mentioned above?! And revision guides.
  • Study guide – helping with homework and giving a nudge in the right direction
  • Entertainments officer – reminding them to take a break at times. They need a balance of work and play.
  • Project manager – agreeing and setting rules for homework and revision.


The BBC website has some good ideas for parents/carers:

Our website also has some useful information and links:

Below, are some ideas for students and parents/carers to work on together:


students might like to think about…

SUCCESSFUL studentS………

  • plan ahead.
  • use time efficiently and effectively.
  • develop good habits.
  • are active in their revision.
  • evaluate past performance – discuss with your subject teachers and mentors.
  • cope with anxiety.
  • don’t rely on luck.



Answer “YES” or “NO” to each question


1. Do you revise work topics on a regular basis? Yes              No


2. If you are having problems with a topic, do you discuss these with a teacher? Yes              No


3. Do you ensure that completing homework is never left until the last minute? Yes              No


4. Do you read all of the comments and corrections that teachers put on your work? Yes              No


5. Do you do homework where there are no distractions, e.g. TV? Yes              No


6. Do you know ways of improving your memory when revising? Yes              No


7. Is your work up together so that you will easily be able to identify key points in each subject for revising?


Yes              No


8. Are you able to forget about schoolwork once you have finished homework/revision for the day?


Yes              No



If you have answered “YES” to at least five of the above, then you are on your way to becoming an effective learner.  If not, then some of the questions asked should get you thinking and the following pages may help you in improving things.


SO READ ON………………….


  • Plan your time between now and the exam.


Your social life does not have to stop!  It may need some re-adjustment but, used in the right way, it can provide you with the necessary periods of relaxation.


  • Draw up a realistic revision timetable and stick to it.


A realistic timetable will only come about if you know two things:


  1. What it is you have to revise.
  2. How much time you have available to do it.


  • The length of time that can be profitably spent on revision in any one session is an individual thing. However, once concentration goes – take a break.


Usually, for example, three twenty-minute sessions are better than one hour without a break.  You will soon get to know the most effective length of time for you.


  • Always try to work in the same place.


You may be able to study with background music, but the TV is a “NO-NO”!!  Make sure you have all you need in your study area – keep it ordered and tidy.  Use “Post-it notes” to plan your time.


  • Act on the advice given to you by your subject teachers.


They have a wealth of experience to pass on to you.  Seek their advice and reassurance on a regular basis.  Additionally, ask staff to clarify points about your work that you still do not understand.  Staff want you to achieve the best you can.

Be active in your revision

You are not revising if you are merely reading through notes.


Work through examples Highlight key points
Set yourself tests Make notes
Use the revise-test-method Make revisions cards
Involve yourself in question and answer sessions with friends Annotate maps and diagrams
Use revision guides/books Make mind maps and spider diagrams
Use trigger words Use mnemonics e.g.
Learn key words F          = Frequency

I           = Intensity

T          = Time


F          = Focus

A         = Author

C          = Context

T          = Tone

Have you got a good memory?

Retention … Recall

Making mind maps

  • Turn a sheet of paper sideways.
  • Write the name of the topic in a circle in the middle of the page.
  • Then write in the main headings with links to the circle.
  • If you can’t think of headings, what, why, where, how, when are a good start.
  • Write in the key points and make links.
  • Use different colours for different parts of the map.

The result is a summary of the topic. Try it!

Some key points to consider:

Just before the exam……….

Ignore those who say last minute revision is a waste of time.  It most certainly is not provided it is not the only revision you do! Get a good night’s sleep.

  • Get all the equipment you will need ready the night before.
  • Arrive on time with the right equipment (with some spare if possible).
  • Check that everything is working. A ‘dud’ calculator or inkless pen is useless.
  • Don’t talk about things you don’t know as you line up to go into the exam hall.

When you are in the exam…

  • Read and follow the instructions.
  • Plan your time carefully – keep an eye on the clock.
  • Read the paper through first – note strongest questions.
  • For written questions and answers:
  • Underline key command words such as State, List, Describe, Explain, Give reasons, Compare.
  • Use resources provided.
  • Use key terms.
  • Note memory joggers.
  • If time is running out – write some notes for the last answer rather than have nothing there at all.
  • If the number of marks to be awarded per question is indicated, use this information wisely.
  • Don’t leave blanks.

Write neatly – don’t upset the examiner! Blue or black ink is essential.  Also, don’t deface your work with doodles and who loves who! Take pride in your efforts.

  • In orals, speak clearly and fluently.
  • Try and have time to check your work.  If you finish early, keep checking it’s unlikely you have got everything right! Add extra detail.
  • Finally, if it is possible to do so, start with a question that you know you can do well.  This will give you confidence.