Wondering how to help your child excel in their exams? Here are some useful exam tips on how to optimise revision time and how to keep stress to a minimum.
1) Core understanding is crucial
Revision is very important, but if your child struggled with a subject the first time around you are fighting a losing battle. Make sure your child has a firm grasp of the basics before they get going with revision exercises. If they are about to take an 11+ exam, for example, test them regularly on each topic. Repetition is key here, so try and factor in a few questions on percentages, fractions and shapes every day, even if it is just in the car on the way to school.
2) Practice makes perfect
Some exams are very formulaic. 11+ exams, for example, test the same skills every year. It is worth investing in a large wad of practice questions, therefore, and helping your child work through them. That way, they become familiar with the format of the test and know exactly what to expect. Innate ability is not everything, and there are plenty of books on sale to give your child the practice they need.
3) Draw up a revision timetable
Nobody wants to feel like they should be working all the time. It is very useful, therefore, to allocate specific times of the day for revision. Many children are most alert and productive in the morning. If it is school holiday time, therefore, put aside an hour or so before lunch for your child to practise their spelling, creative writing or arithmetic. Research has shown we work best in 30 to 40 minute bursts, so bear this in mind when you are designing a schedule. If your child is older, encourage them to make their own revision timetable and to factor in regular breaks. It will help them to manage their time and keep on top of their work.
This BBC Bitesize page is a fantastic resource for all things related to timetabling:
4) Make sure there’s time to relax
Yes, hard work always pays off. However, it is essential your child has some downtime where they can just relax and have fun. Whether they like seeing friends, baking or going to the cinema, encourage them to keep doing what they enjoy. Doing something completely different will help clear their head, ward off stress, and make the time they spend working more productive.
5) Sport can be beneficial
There’s lots of evidence that suggests physical activity can improve brain functioning. Fresh air is wonderful thing, and sport helps to reduce stress and improve sleep — the ancient saying ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ isn’t still famous for nothing. Plus, if your teenager is spending time exercising, it means they are spending time away from their phone and computer, which can only be a good thing.
6) Look into revision courses
Revision courses are proven to boost exam performance. Hampstead and Frognal Tutors run two day revision courses throughout the year in GCSE English, Maths and Science, along with 11+ English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. 13+ Revision Courses in Maths, Science and English are also available. Fun and focused, these revision courses impart both knowledge and confidence.
For more information, click here: https://hampsteadandfrognaltutors.org.uk/contact-us/
7) Don’t start revision too early
Feeling burnt out is a real risk for diligent students. If teenagers start revising too early for their GCSEs or A Levels, they are likely to peak too soon and not be at their best when exam season finally arrives.
Things are slightly different for younger students. If your child is due to sit the 11+ in the next year so, you might want to consider starting some gentle revision. For more advice on when to begin preparing, take a look at our 11+ blog post: “Can I Tutor My Own Child?”
8) Stress is contagious
Everyone wants their children to do well in school. However, children and teenagers easily sense when their parents are anxious, and often feel more stressed as a result. Sometimes you need to explain that exam results are not the most important thing in the world, and that you will be proud no matter what. Ironically, the soothing effect of these words often leads to children doing better in assessments as they approach them with less apprehension.
9) Mock exams work wonders
Regardless of how old they are, it is likely that your child will be nervous before an exam. It is sensible, therefore, to organise a mock exam before they sit the real thing. GCSE and A Level mocks teach students how to manage their time, how to keep calm under pressure and how to improve their exam technique. Younger children are often fazed by the formal nature of assessments, and a mock gives them time to adjust to the strange new set-up.
It helps if the mock takes place in an unfamiliar place and is invigilated by someone who does not know the child well. That way, the test feels more real. It is also worth noting that mark schemes can be hard to understand. If have hired a tutor, give them the answer paper to look at, as they will probably be able to mark it more accurately.
10) Consider hiring a tutor
If you have decided to employ a tutor — be it a GCSE Maths tutoror an A Level English tutor— you have probably made a good decision. One-to-one teaching is hugely powerful, particularly in the run up to exams. Whether your child needs help in a specific area, or general academic support, tutors can make a real difference.
For more information, take a look at this article which appeared in The Telegraph last year.