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How to Support your Child with A Levels

How on earth are they about to sit A Levels? Surely it was only yesterday they were learning to read and chasing after bubbles as though they were the most exciting thing in the world!

By this point you’ve probably already supported your child through the GCSE years, so much of what this article contains will be a reminder of the really important role you can play to support your child through this next step of their education. We know first-hand what it’s like to support children through exams; it’s tough work! Many of us feel like we sat the exams ourselves! But we know you’ve got this!

Here are some simple pieces of advice from the Oxford Revise Team that we hope will support both you and your child through A Level exams.

1 – Showing an interest

This sounds very simple. But life is busy so try to really take time to listen. Know where your child wants to get to after A Levels, and the realistic grades they hope to achieve. Help to motivate them by reminding them of those goals, without piling on the pressure.

Your child’s college or school may put on A Level Exam Sessions for parents and carers – do go along as these can give you a very helpful overview of the exams, alongside suggestions about the type of support and help you can offer during this time.

2 – Worrying is natural but watch out for signs of stress 

Help them to see the bigger picture – yes exams are important, but they aren’t everything. They can also be taken again if necessary. This is a finite period of time, and just like you probably can’t believe your baby is old enough to be doing A Levels, this point of their life will be over before they know it.

There can be a lot of pressure heaped on young people from peers, social media, school, and family. Try not to add to that pressure – make sure they know you are proud of them no matter what happens. Lots of reassurance and perspective from you, and opportunities to talk together will be important. It might be worth reminding them of their GCSE experiences; they have probably had these nerves and anxiety before, and they got through it.

You know your child best. Look out for signs of stress and changes to behaviour. Are they become tearful, blowing things out of proportion, experiencing poor sleep, withdrawing, or struggling with appetite? These can all be signs of stress and you may need to seek help with from your GP if you are concerned.

3 – Help with creating and managing a study timetable

Creating a revision timetable is one of the most important things to do to help keep this period manageable, and to give your child confidence and feelings of control. Do it together with your child, and then help support them to stick to it, without policing too heavily! Oxford Revise suggest breaking this down into a simple three chunks a day. Check out our free Revision Timetable which you can use.

Taking breaks is crucially important. Make sure there are lots of opportunities to recharge those batteries, including with fresh air, exercise, and friends. Some students find their phone too much of a distraction and may like you to hold on to it during some revision sessions. Others use it as a crucial tool for revision – talk about what is best with your child.

4 – A calm home environment

We know creating a calm home environment is not always easy. But try where possible to create quieter times in the day so your child can study without too much distraction. If that’s not possible, talk to the college or school about other options. These could include using your local library as a space to revise from.

Revising in different spaces can be helpful memory cues. Other things you can do in the home is include some revision classics like sticking Post-It notes to the fridge door or mug cupboard. Oldies but goodies for a reason – reading over that quote or definition every time you make a cup of tea does help the knowledge to stick.

5 – Helping with quizzing

By the time your child is studying A Levels they will be getting in-depth into their subjects. You don’t have to be an expert or have A Levels yourself to be able to help. Testing your child using retrieval questions in Oxford Revise is a helpful way to test knowledge – and the answers are all there in the books for you.

Spending a short amount of time regularly on helping with quizzing will help information to be stored in your child’s long-term memory, and give them regular practice at being able to recall it just like they will need to in their exams.

6 – Healthy lifestyle and routines

You’ll be very used to this tip from GCSE, but a healthy and balanced diet is particularly important at exam time. Make sure there are lots of regular healthy snack and drink breaks in your child’s revision timetable. Breakfast on exam days is very important too. Big Manny has got lots of tips and suggestions for the types of things he advises in the run up to exams.

Healthy routines with a balance between revision and other more enjoyable activities are important and something you can support with at home. Walking, swimming, playing football, having a boogie or any type of exercise is good for helping to clear the mind, relieve stress, and giving energy levels a boost.

7 – Motivation

It’s worth thinking about a motivational treat that might help your child to navigate this period and keep focused as best as they can. This doesn’t have to be anything expensive or elaborate but something to keep in mind for the tougher periods of revision.

It could be a special meal, a night out with friends, or a trip to see family, whatever your child would enjoy and help them to keep motivated.

8 – Preparing for results day

Results day can feel like a huge weight on your shoulders as well as your child’s. Jubilation, anxiety, disappointment – a whole heap of emotions can be wrapped up in that day.

Prior to results day, help to reassure your child that whatever the results, that you love them, are proud of them and will be celebrating everything that they’ve achieved over the last 13 or so years of schooling, no matter the results. Try to keep calm, and let your child know that you are available to talk, listen, and work together to identify a plan for a range of different results.

Having a plan for different scenarios can help with feelings of control and managing an unknown situation. Remind them this is another step in their lives, but a sense of perspective and focus on the bigger picture can be helpful.

Useful links

Revision books

AQA A Level Biology

Build your knowledge and skills for AQA A Level Biology. Revise everything you need to know to do well in the exam, from the cell cycle to DNA and genes.

AQA A Level Chemistry

Revise everything you need to know to do well in your AQA A Level Chemistry exam. You will build your skills and knowledge in all of the topics in the AQA course across physical, organic and inorganic chemistry.

AQA A Level Physics

Get complete coverage of AQA A Level Physics in one book. You will revise everything from electric fields to telescopes and stars in a way that sticks.