Exam period can be stressful and overwhelming. Students preparing for finals or tests always search for a special comfort zone to alleviate anxiety. Students may differ in their learning habits, the level of self-motivation and maturity, but parental support always remains crucial. Also, University students pursuing their academic careers face the most intense pressure, especially if they live and study away from home.
How can parents support their students preparing for the exams? How to build confidence and encourage learning progress without intrusive parenting? To address these questions, let’s look at the reasons why students fail the exams.
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I know I could do a better job.
Apparently, some students may have bad time management and planning that lead to low academic performance and frustration. Indeed, this problem mostly appears when students do not understand how much time they should devote to preparation, revision and tend to overestimate their skills and resources . This is a learning process and it’s important for the students to pay attention to their own mistakes.
While time management and planning are the skills that come with experience, lack of motivation or lack of interest in the chosen field of study can be more challenging issue for the parents to deal with. In most of the cases, students have low motivation when they don’t understand how the program of study will help them to succeed in their future careers or they simply do not like a major or University. So, this can happen when parents help too much to make a right choice with the future profession.
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Another factor that impacts students’ efficiency in exam preparation is fear. Fears of failed expectations and lost opportunities are the most powerful sources of stress. Additionally, students may worry a lot that they will not meet the expectations of the parents if they don’t get an admission to the University or will need to retake the course that will lead to additional expenses from the family budget. This is a domain where parental advice and support are needed the most.
How to develop a support strategy?
It can be difficult to find a universal approach that will encourage and motivate all the students. Yet, there are key points which will help to create a supportive environment and remind of the parents’ love and care.
All the parents want to see their children successful, but try to keep your expectations real  . Outstanding academic achievements don’t necessarily lead to successful careers and if you see your student struggling with some chores, don’t insist on the highest score. In reality, it’s important for the parents to explain that the best approach is to do as much as you can and never compare yourself with someone else.
University students preparing for independent life are highly sensitive to any type of control from the parents’ side. Always try to stay involved in the process, but don’t take a lead to control it. Talk with your child how he or she feels about the test, whether the preparation goes well and if there is anything that you can help with. Cooperation is a more powerful motivation tool than control.
Fear of Challenges.
Let the challenges make you child stronger and smarter. Make sure your student understands that challenge and failure are parts of personal development . Overall, life of your child does not depend on the score of one exam. Also, failure that students tend to see as a tragedy will be no more than a learning experience in the future. This experience teaches students how to estimate their skills and resources, how to develop emotional intelligence and sense of responsibility.
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Students who focus solely on exam preparation and leave family and friends aside may end up in isolation. Help your student to find a balance between academic studies and social life  . Every individual has his or her own biological clock and hours when the brain is the most active and productive. So, try to discuss study hours and schedule with your child and make sure there is space left for the family, friends or any other activities that may help to reduce stress.
Parents don’t need to be managers controlling the time of their adult children. Yet, this is the responsibility of the parents to explain the value of time management and teach how to plan daily schedule. Share your experience of managing your time and suggest your child to develop a study plan and emphasize the importance of revision before the exam.
Students who struggle with the time management tend to procrastinate the exam preparation. Also, it’s easy to fall into the trap and to choose more pleasurable things to do over the study for exams. In fact, many students believe that they will perform better under pressure of time and deadlines but this is a self-deception. As the parent, let your children understand, the more they procrastinate the harder it becomes to start . The best approach would be to complete less enjoyable tasks first.
Skills and Resources.
All students differ in their skills and resources and something that looks easy for one will be a challenge for other. To make studying process effective students should know their strong and weak points  . As the parent, you should focus on strengths and confidence, but always explain how to deal with weaknesses.
Options always make failure less dramatic. So, don’t be scared to communicate worst-case scenario with your child, but make sure you suggest a solution or an alternative plan. What if your student will fail entrance exam and will not get admission to the University? It is not really end of the world. There are other Universities to explore. As long as the students understand the availability of other options, failed exam won’t look like a catastrophe.
Children start to understand themselves through the attitude of their parents. The way how students reflect on their success or failure mirrors the approach of their parents. Even if you doubt that your child will succeed with the exam, don’t share your concerns. Confidence is a better motivator than the fear of failure.
Study environment is important the same as the study plan. If the student lives at home, try to arrange a quiet and cozy place for study and minimize the distractions from calls, talks or visits during the study hours . Study place should be separate from relaxing area. This way the study habits will be tuned to a specific place. For psychological comfort, it is also better to avoid family issues and arguments during the exam period.
Good sleeping habits, healthy food, and sport make the exam preparation more efficient and less stressful. Students should have 7-8 hours of sleep, regular meals and some healthy snacks between the meals. Physical exercises help to relieve stress and increase brain power. Encourage your student to have a healthy lifestyle and suggest some relaxation techniques .
Students preparing for the exams will be more motivated if they know that there is a reward for hard work. So, you can plan some trip, small present or event which will give a good feeling to your child.
Parental support does not have time limits the same as exam period. Let your student know about your love and care no matter the score of the exam. Additionally, express your appreciation of hard work and efforts even if the results of the exam are not as good as you expected. If your child failed the exam, don’t make a tragedy out of it, but try to sit and discuss the reasons why it happened and how you can help in future.
Failure is always an opportunity to improve and your student should understand that learning from the mistakes is important the same as education itself. Challenging experience helps to prepare for adult life and parents` job is to teach how to turn challenges into success.