I’ve always adopted the mindset of the indomitable mountaineering duo Tenzing and Hillary, when pushing towards completion of a major project. It’s incredible what you can get through when you know the end is in sight. As my younger son, Ethan, approaches his Highers in May we’re holding on to that thought, trying to plot a steady course to the summit in the face of mounting pressure. My older son, Lyle, sat quite different Highers in 2013 to those now presented in Curriculum for Excellence. By the time Ethan sits his, he figures he’ll have sat around 30 NABS, assignments and prelims in nine months where failing – if you want to pass the final – just hasn’t been an option. Apparently CfE’s slow, steady climb (as opposed to sprint finish) was designed specifically to help boys, as they tend to be less organised than girls, but from where I’m sitting the pressure has been more intense than was ever the case for “traditional” Highers. What support can parents offer their kids in the final push for the summit? Top tips I’ve never seen it put better than by Cynthia McVey who was Head of Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University when I worked there in 2010. Give them space Try to create a specific space at home for studying, away from the distractions of noisy siblings, mobiles etc. A quiet corner of the local library – complete with iPod and headphones - can also be effective. Play it up Don’t worry if young people want to play music while studying. Listening to soothing music can help tune out distractions. Be positive Encourage rather than criticise. Don’t nag that not studying means they’ll never amount to anything. Instead, point out how passing exams will afford them more choices and chances. Treat them If they’ve been studying for ages, or have had a few exams on the trot, treat them to an ice cream, hot chocolate, or whatever they like. Be prepared Help young people get organised. Encourage them to lay out everything they need for an exam the night before - pens, calculator etc. - so they're relaxed and ready to go in the morning. Eat well Set them up for the day of the exam by providing a nutritious breakfast. A slow energy release breakfast, such as porridge or muesli, is perfect. Keep your cool Pupils should leave extra time to get ready the morning of an exam, so they're not rushed. When they first sit down to start the exam, take time and read over questions properly. Don't rush into answers. If they do go blank, they should take two minutes to think about study space. Imagine sitting with books, think about work they've done and then look at the question again. They should be much calmer. Taking a few deep breaths also helps. Best of luck to SQA exam candidates everywhere!