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Exams are just one of the ways that schools monitor the progress of pupils. Teachers use exam and test results to set stretching but realistic targets. The targets are reviewed regularly and adjusted according to the pupil's progress.

School performance

For information on school performance visit the DfES - performance tables website (link opens in a new window)

Types of exams

National curriculum teacher assessments and tests - these are sometimes called SATs. These tests are taken at the end of key stages 1, 2 and 3. They are designed to give you and your child's school information about how well they are doing.

GCSEs - these are the first qualifications students get, at about 16. These are traditional academic qualifications, usually taken at school. Scores are marked on an A* to G grade. Students work towards these exams for two years and would hope to achieve at least five A* - C grades including English and mathematics.

Find out more about GCSEs

Helping children to cope with exam stress

You can help your child cope with exam stress in many ways.

Help them get organised. Help them plan a revision programme that is realistic and that they can stick to. There are many websites that can help them revise as well as their school books. Make sure they have a suitable place to revise. Give them encouragement and praise when they are working hard.

Make sure they eat well and always have breakfast - especially on examination days - and drink plenty of water. This will help with concentration. Discourage sugary snacks and drinks as they can affect concentration.

Encourage them to have breaks from work and get plenty of sleep. This is particularly important the night before an exam. Make sure they have an alarm clock so they get up in time to eat breakfast and arrive in time for the exam.

Failed exam options

They can re-sit the exams at the same school - this could be easier than trying to find another school that does exactly the same syllabus.

If you do want to re-sit somewhere else, it needs to be at a registered school or college - they need to take responsibility for the administration and coursework requirements. Exam boards have lists of colleges willing to take external candidates. These centres can charge an administration fee as well as the normal exam fee.

Exam appeals

You need to discuss the option of an appeal with your child’s school as it is the school who must contact the exam board if you feel the result is wrong. The exam board will make various checks and may remark the paper.

Your child’s school can request a photocopy of the paper to check where the marks have been awarded and lost. If the exam board finds evidence to show that the grade should be higher, it will be upgraded. But if it is decided that the grade should be lower than the original it will be downgraded.

The appeal procedure does carry costs. The maximum fee will be £120 for a stage one investigation and £65 for a stage two hearing.

The actual charge will depend on the costs incurred in the investigation. There is no charge if the grade is changed as a result of the investigation, or if the exam board finds some genuine error on its part.

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