Gifted Children – The 100% debate

If your child came home having gained 100% on an exam paper, how would you feel? Really pleased, and so you should.

We recently received a phone call from a parent who asked for some advice on how to support their child in this exact situation. The parent was distraught and confused about what actions to take as she had just received a phone call from the headmistress saying that her child had just sat a mock exam paper and got every question right. She also said that in her whole career of teaching that no student had ever achieved 100%.

The headteacher believed that this was not possible because the student had used words that weren’t used by the teacher in class. From the conversation we had with the parent it was clear that her child had studied for 6 hours a day after lessons and revised from old exam papers using the mark scheme. This is an excellent way to study and a good way to learn what the examiner is looking for in terms of answers.

Understandably both parent and child were extremely upset and confused as they both felt that the student had cheated because they had used their mark scheme for reference. This is not the case and an advisable strategy to use when studying.

The headteacher informed the parent by phone that they would be asking her child to re-sit the paper to ensure that the student understood the subject. Our advice to the parent was once the student had re-sat the exam, we could then compare the two grades and make a decision on a study plan going forward.

Another piece of advice if this happens to you as parents is never to judge your child or accuse them of cheating because this will completely put them off studying and could completely backfire in terms of wanting to do well in future. Therefore, we would always encourage praise and congratulations for a grade of this standard, but also discuss with your child the understanding of any technical words used. For example, if your child is studying Maths or Science and they use words associated with the subject, do they understand the meaning of the words in relation to the question, or have they learnt the mark scheme almost like a drama script, e.g., they’ve used a word related to the subject but not understood the context of the word in relation to the question.

In terms of Maths if the question was, “What does the word circumference mean?” and your child had learnt that circumference meant, “the enclosing boundary of a curved geometric figure, especially a circle” but didn’t know how to use this phrase to answer mathematical problems then this would be an issue fir the teacher.

The point of writing this blog is that all too often parents approach us for children who are struggling in class or underperforming in terms of their age or grade boundaries.

All too often gifted children are forgotten or accused of cheating if they do well. Never discourage any child of using their initiative to study or learn a topic as this may discourage them from learning altogether which can be extremely counterproductive and make your child take a different path in life altogether. If you need to encourage your child to do anything in this situation encourage them to take as many tests as possible that are required of them, stay calm, and use each occasion to prove the doubters wrong and to demonstrate how motivated and intelligent they are.

If you require any further information about this subject or anything in relation to the topics discussed, please contact us on: 07590395089 or e-mail us at:

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