And that’s exactly what happened during the AQA English Literature GCSE paper yesterday [22 May] when the exam board decided to feature Banquo on a question about Macbeth. Banquo is a character in the Shakespeare play who is at first an ally to Macbeth. However later, Macbeth sees him as a threat and has him murdered. Banquo’s ghost returns in a later scene.
After the exam students expressed their shock on Twitter after the exam to share their shock at the character popping up in the question, having been told that it was unlikely.
But within the shared shock, there were a few teenagers reminding others that they have a second chance on the next exam.
Let’s face it, the reality of exams is to be prepared for the unexpected, so how can you encourage your child to stay calm when exam shock crops up on the day? Go over these three tips with your kids, provided by the NHS, that might help calm them down if it happens on another one of their GCSE exams this season.
1. Take a few minutes to read the instructions and questions. The teachers always say it, but it can be tempting to see a few unexpected words in an exam question, freak out, and have no idea what to write. Encourage your child to read, and re-read the question and give themselves some thinking time to come up with what they could write. Can they remember anything about this from lessons they’ve done in the past? Could they make notes before they start writing?
2. Plan how much time you’ll need for each question. Remind them that it’s likely there will always be questions on an exam paper that throw them a bit, but if they end up spending all their time on the hard question that they’re not quite sure on, it might not leave enough time for the other questions that they’re confident on the answers for.
3. Once the exam is finished, forget about it. Although it’s usual for many students to go on social media straight away to see what others are saying about an exam, encourage your child to not spend too much time going over the paper in their head or comparing answers with friends. Get them to focus on the next exam.