Student's Guidance

How to Help Your Teen Study for English Exams?

Is your teen becoming grouchy? Do you see your kid getting frustrated with school? Would you like to know how you could help?

The Realities of Student Life

As parents, you would want to shield your child from the hard realities of life. There are times when you want to do their school projects or homework for them. However, in the long run, this zealousness to protect your young may have adverse effects.

Studying is your child’s primary concern. At this stage in his or her life, activities from school take up most of their time. However much you would like to help them, you still have to carefully consider the consequences of your actions.

Examinations – be they routine school tests or the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams – can cause quite a stir in the teenage community. They huddle and stress over their A-Levels, discussing over and over what they can do to hurdle through tests, and stare off into space at times when they feel they are at their wit’s end.

These tests are an opportunity to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Exams may be a vehicle for them to discover how to prioritize the time they have for their studies. At the same time, the examination period also provide a way for you to communicate with your child as well as their teacher or school administrators.

Nevertheless, you would still want to see if there is a way for you to extend assistance. Here are some ideas on how to help:

1. Communicate with your child

Open the lines of communication with your teen. There are teenagers who are not so chatty, but letting them know that you are available for questions or simply just to talk can already be a big help.

Try to ask and find out which subjects they are having difficulty with. Ask how their day went and try to avoid Yes or No questions. It is always better to ask questions that will allow them to share information with you. Let them know that you are interested in them and their welfare and not just their results.

Also, take time to really listen. Your listening ear, not your nagging ways, can sometimes be the only key to make them trust you with whatever they have in their heads or hearts.

2. Delegate responsibilities

Give your teen the chance to be responsible.

Successful students take ownership of their learning. When you give them responsibility for their studies, they learn how to be accountable for something that directly affects them. This will teach them to identify their goals, manage their time, and take the necessary steps to achieve them.

This does not mean that you just drop the matter of their education like a hot potato. You can still be there as a guide and a supportive parent.

3. Help create a study plan

You can help your child make a study plan. Remember not to do it yourself, but instead, be an objective guide that will help your teen identify what he needs to prioritize.

Just like with any project, let your teen set study goals. Then, let your kid identify his or her priorities and then draw up a timeline, working backwards from the examination date. It is better to encourage your teenager to start this well in advance. This way, your child will have plenty of time to study and avoid last-minute panic and cramming, as much as possible.

Don’t forget the very important “down time. Allow your child to have some regulated time for computer games, sports, music, or hanging out with friends. Remember that these can serve as essential motivators during exam periods.

Now that you have identified ways to be a supportive parent when it comes to your teen’s studies, here are some specific pointers on how you can also help them when English exams are near. Aside from enrolling them in an English language school to improve their academic prowess as well as their literacy and numeracy skills, you can also do these things at home:

●       Encourage reading

Unlike mathematics or science, the English language sometimes seems like a subject your teen can’t study for. However, academicians agree about one thing: The key is to read more.

Teenagers nowadays tend to be so distracted by gadgets. You see them glued to their screens, either playing or scrolling through social media. Instead of always being stuck to their game consoles, encourage your kid to read as often as possible. This will make a difference in your teen’s English ability.

Your teenager should read up on common exam topics such as the environment, sports, technology, and travel. Visit bookshops and look for books or magazines that explore these themes. They can also browse through English language newspapers for a quick and cheaper option.

●       Teach them how to read properly

Just reading line after line of text won’t make much of a difference in your teen’s English ability.

Instead, guide your child to be actively engaged in reading. Teach him to take notes, recording questions about items they do not understand, and summarizing the main points. They should also learn how to link the text they are reading to the things they already know.

●       Practice writing

When you want your teen to improve his English language abilities, then you must also encourage him or her to write.

To excel in composition, one must remember to include a range of ideas. Including different key points in an essay keep it interesting to read. As a guide, ask your teen to list down a variety of related topics. This way, he will be able to cover a wide range of subjects and avoid repeating ones that are already mentioned.

It is also crucial to practice writing essay plans. Essay plans help hone the vital skill of generating ideas. To do so, encourage your teen to keep the piece short – just around 50 words will do – and write it in note form.

Also, discuss mind-mapping techniques and get them to find out what works for them. Help your teen determine if a spider diagram will work better for him or if the use of pictures and symbols is more effective.

Your teen can also use charts to organize ideas. Try out various approaches until you figure out what works best.

English as a Global Tool

English is considered one of the global languages. A lot of people speak and understand English all over the world. Many consider it their second language. It is used for instruction, for business, and for many more social interactions. It is, therefore, a good idea to learn this language as a tool that your teen can use as he grows into adulthood.

Your teen can maximize the opportunities presented at English language schools. Not only will he be trained to understand and speak better English, but he will also be exposed to a multicultural environment where academic excellence is pursued. Add to that a pastoral approach to mentoring and guiding kids to be the best version of themselves, and your teen will surely be ready to face a world on his own two feet.


Sybil AbouRahal-Jones is the Marketing & Communications Manager at The English College in Dubai. She majored in Graphic Design and has experience of 20 years working in Graphic Design, Branding, Marketing and Communications. Her role is to set the MarCom strategy for both primary and secondary schools and implement branding, graphic design, internal and external communications, marketing, and digital marketing.