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Secrets to exam success

PUBLISHED: 12:34 03 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:47 03 May 2016

Queenswood School

Queenswood School


Exam season is upon us with all the nerves, revision and extra effort that entails for pupils (and parents). We asked leading independent schools in Herts how they prepare pupils for success

Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' SchoolHaberdashers' Aske's Boys' School

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School Butterfly Lane, Elstree WD6 3AF

Established: 1690, Pupils: 1,400, Age: 5-18, Boarding/Day: Day, Boys/Girls: Boys

The ethos of Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School is not so much to prepare pupils for examinations as to deliver an exciting curriculum beyond the confines of the exam specifications.

Pupils are inspired to love the subject and develop understanding, which ultimately allows them to access the very top grades at all levels. We would rather develop individual interest and passion in every subject, not just accrue certificates, thus no pupil is entered for an examination early. Our philosophy of enrichment and enlivenment is welcomed by pupils, and parents, and leads to outstanding year-on-year Oxbridge and Russell Group universities success.

The HABS approach is supported by an invigorating programme of study, a dynamic extra-curricular programme and superb pastoral care.

HABS students are taught by the very best teachers and study the best courses available. Motivation, excellent pedagogy and a personalised approach to learning lead to exceptional results in all subjects and at all levels, which has led to our premier position in the independent school league tables across the last decade.

Queenswood School Shepherd’s Way, Brookmans Park, Hatfield AL9 6NS

Established: 1894, Pupils: 420, Ages: 11–18, Boarding/Day: Both, Girls/Boys: Girls

We are proud of our excellent academic reputation at Queenswood and are at the pinnacle of Hertfordshire’s ‘value-added’ league table.

Our small class sizes mean that girls benefit from individual attention and staff will always organise extra seminars and one-on-one tutorials in preparation for exams. But successful preparation for exams also involves students taking responsibility for their own learning. We aim to foster a growing sense of independence and resilience in our pupils as they progress through the year groups towards the sixth form.

An exam specification can only ever be a limited list, and while we rigorously explore subject content within lessons, the girls understand the vital importance of reading around and making cross-curricular links. That is why we ensure all our pupils take a broad and balanced curriculum, tailored to their own particular needs.

Exam season can be a pressurised time and we recognise that pupils need a healthy balance of work and play. Fortunately, our beautiful grounds and rich co-curricular programme offer girls plenty of opportunities to relax and let off steam

St Francis’ College Broadway, Letchworth SG6 1ED

Established: 1933, Pupils: 410, Ages: 3-18, Boarding/Day: Boarding, Girls/Boys: Girls

We prepare our girls for their examinations by providing them with a range of dedicated study spaces. We offer specialist study-skills sessions to promote good exam practice and revision technique and anxiety-management workshops to build emotional resilience. Specialist extension classes are provided where girls can access close support on specific areas. We monitor our girls closely via academic tracking, aspirational grades and target-setting. These all help the girls to identify and work towards achieving their full potential.

We focus on healthy eating for revision, and ‘being our best’ to encourage confidence and ambition. Our university applications allow and encourage each girl to be aspirational in her choices, with a very high success rate.

But life is more than just exams and, here at St Francis’ College, we focus on preparing our pupils for life beyond school. Our academic success is based upon this recognition. We develop the girls’ resilience, adopt a growth mind-set and expect high standards. We encourage our pupils to learn about themselves and apply this knowledge in their preparations for the future.

St George’s School Sun Lane, Harpenden AL5 4TD

Established: 1907, Pupils: 1,350, Ages: 11-18, Boarding/Day: Boarding, Girls/Boys: Both

At St George’s School, we believe that exam preparation is important and we support pupils in a variety of ways with their exam preparation while also fostering independent learning. We recognise that pupils need support with exam preparation and as a result we run an extensive programme of study skills.

This includes a mentoring system for all Year 11 pupils, which involves pupils meeting regularly with their tutor, head of house or a member of the school’s Leadership Team to discuss performance, exam preparation, revision techniques and how pupils will achieve their target grades in the summer. Pupils also enjoy a series of information assemblies, where they are given tips on revision technique, planning, stress management, maximising potential and exam preparation. Sessions are delivered by staff and by pupils in the higher academic years, who give practical advice from their own experience.

We also issue revision planners for year 10 and 11 and help pupils to use them so that they can break down their studying into time-bonded, manageable chunks interspersed with relaxation and exercise, to ensure that they maximise their revision time.

The school also offers online support and runs revision sessions and drop-ins through to the last exam.

Westbrook Hay Prep School London Road, Hemel Hempstead HP1 2RF

Established: 1892, Pupils: 320, Ages: 3-13, Boarding/Day: Day, Girls/Boys: Co-ed

Often parents arrive with only one wish, that their children should be happy at school. Over time, this will gradually be replaced by a desire for their children to pass an entrance test. The success of this transition is best described as academic progress with a smile.

Given the diverse requirements of various schools’ testing arrangements, children are prepared for specific tests for target schools. This comes on the back of exam preparation and familiarisation, with every child getting used to revising for and sitting exams twice a year as part of our annual exam programme.

The best preparation for exams is obviously to be well-taught and we have the advantage that from Year 5 and beyond, all lessons are taught by subject specialists, which is one of the reasons why we have an enviable record of scholarship awards and are proud of placing 100 per cent of our children in independent schools of their choice.

In an increasingly pressurised world, we do all this and still retain the smile!


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