GCSEs: The importance of awareness and organisation

…After speaking to the student and after I had flicked through his disorganised folder, it became all the more evident that the student hadn’t the faintest idea what material he needed to know in order to pass the exam. He looked down at the table and rotated his pencil slowly between his fingers. Exams were barely two months away…

This is an issue I have actually encountered a few times working with children working towards their GCSEs late into the exam cycle. Although exam success is by no means guaranteed, quite a few children do not give themselves the best chance to succeed.

At school, I know that I was especially bad at organisation and was frequently chastised by teachers for my poor level of organisation (especially in A level Philosophy). The reasons I managed to succeed in exams was that I always remembered things well at school and I was always aware of what I needed to know. However, perhaps with better organisation at school, I could have made exam success easier to attain.  

GCSEs are particularly a difficult challenge for children to go through. Teenagers are themselves going through biological developments and mentally changing too. Although some of the major bodily changes have already taken place between the ages of 11 and 15, from 15-16, teenagers have more concerns about the future and are even more likely to be depressed.

Children of the GCSE age-group start to develop their working habits. They start learning about how they learn best, what they want to learn about, how they want to organise their work, how they can use their knowledge in the future and so on. The Government have tried to tackle these issues by introducing students to study skills as an extracurricular add-on. Study skills should not be regarded in this way, but should be pushed early in a child’s development and enforced by those around the child (parents, teachers, tutors etc). Of course, different people have different ways of organising and this uniqueness should be celebrated too, but there are always general ideas that should be consistently enforced and reinforced.  
Although I did not enjoy being lectured weekly about the state of my folders, I have to admit that teachers certainly left an impression on me and I did start to pay more attention. Looking back, I wish those around me had started teaching me earlier about the value of organisation and thinking about what they need to learn. How aware is your child? Does he/she know how to approach studying? How organised are your child’s notes? Under which exam board is your child taking an exam? Does your child know what skills and knowledge is needed? These are just a few of the questions that parents can consider leading up to exams.

Jonathan Strange

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