The entrance examination season for independent schools in the north west, will soon be upon us. Having worked in three independent schools in the area and now in my role leading a fourth, I have seen many nervous Year 6 students – both girls and boys – approach the school door on entrance exam days with huge amounts of trepidation. Parents are often seen standing over their children asking them if they have their pencil cases, candidate numbers and various bits of stationary; I sometimes wonder who, though, is the most nervous – child or parent. Invariably, it is the latter! So, what are my top tips for parents this examination season?
- Read the invitation letter from the School
The school will give you all the information you need to manage the day. You will be told about times to drop off and collect your child and some schools will include your child’s candidate number in the invitation pack together with various forms you may be required to complete. If you are given anything to fill in or something to stick on your child’s jumper, do this before coming to the School. Being organised as a parent will ease the pressure on the morning and will also alleviate any undue stress your child may be feeling.
- Praise the effort of your child
Some parents come into school coaching their child on last minute algebraic techniques, how to answer verbal reasoning questions and tips for creative writing! This time could be better spent simply encouraging your child to do his/her best and praising the effort that is being shown. This approach has proven results; remember that your child will already feel pressure to please you and will be worried about letting you down.
- Get there early!
Give yourself plenty of time to travel to the School. Traffic and parking are invariably worse on entrance examination days and the last thing you need is to add to the worry of the day with parking and travel concerns.
- Remind your child about examination technique.
Remind your child about the basics when it comes to answering questions on the examination paper. They should try and pace themselves well and not spend too much time on one question. Furthermore, they should always show their method of working in response to Maths questions. They may achieve method marks even if they get an answer wrong!
- Preparation, preparation, preparation
Preparation is everything. However, I am not just talking about completing practice examination papers! Ensuring that your child (and you) get a good night’s sleep before the day and waking them up early so that they have plenty of time to eat a good breakfast and set off early, are really important for ensuring that your child has a calm start to the day.
Remember, the School will want your child to have a good day and will be working hard, behind the scenes, to ensure that the experience is an enjoyable one. Encourage your child to embrace the opportunities available to them during the day, to meet other children and to start making friends; they may well be sitting next to them in a few short months’ time!