Revision gets a lot of bad press. Seen as both boring and stress inducing, it is often approached with trepidation by students. The run up to exams doesn’t have to be dreary, however. Here are ten tips on how to help your child revise well without sacrificing the things they enjoy.
1) Think quality, not quantity
Although it is tempting to believe that staring at a book is the same as studying, it’s not. Some teenagers sit at their desks for hours on end but learn very little. When it comes to revision, concentration is everything, and it’s better to focus hard for two hours than to spend a whole afternoon sifting through notes, browsing different textbooks and checking social media. Phones are a huge source of distraction – particularly for teenagers sitting GCSEs and A Levels – so encourage your child to put their smart phone in a different room when they are revising. Alternatively, apps like Offtime and Moment, which temporarily block social media, can be very beneficial.
Finally, always be suspicious of reports that say children should revise for hours and hours every day. The claim made by a former headteacher of Harrow that says GCSE students should revise 7 hours a day, for instance, has met a lot of criticism: www.theguardian.com
2) Hunt down past papers
It doesn’t matter if your child is revising for GCSE Maths or for 11+ English, past papers are crucial. Old exam papers familiarise students with what to expect and provide a huge range of practice questions. What’s more, it is only by tackling past papers that pupils discover what they don’t know. For GCSE and A Level students, exam boards have huge archives of past exam papers online. If your child is due to sit the 11+, you can bolster online resources with physical books filled with example questions.
3) Make a revision timetable
It is very tempting for children to practise what they are good at and ignore what they find hard. A revision timetable can prevent this. Before revision starts in earnest, sit down with your child and help draw up a sensible schedule which covers the full range of subjects. A lot of students are most alert in the morning, so pencil in difficult topics – whether it’s a Latin translation or a GCSE French paper — before noon.
4) Schedule in some treats
Studying is never going to be every child’s cup of tea, and lots of students feel stressed in the run up to exams. Take the time, therefore, to plan some fun activities. Getting out of the house is important for mental wellbeing, so book some cinema tickets, arrange a day trip, go to the shopping centre– whatever it is your child enjoys. Children and teenagers are under a tremendous amount of pressure in exam season and risk feeling burnt out, so parents should do what they can to reduce stress.
5) Consider one-to-one tuition
If your child is struggling with certain topics, gets very nervous before exams, or is striving hard for top grades, it is worth considering private tuition. One-to-one lessons are a fast and powerful way of learning and can give students a much needed confidence boost. During exam leave, teenagers can waste a lot of time struggling with questions and feeling confused, and don’t have a teacher immediately on hand to give them the help they need. Two or three private tuition sessions could clear up any problems they are having.
6) Invest in nice stationery
It sounds silly, but a new notebook and a colourful set of pens might give your child the motivation they need to revise, particularly if they’re artistically minded. Neat, attractive notes are easier to learn from and satisfying to create, and could just give your child some encouragement if they are getting tired of work.
7) Remember regular breaks are key
Research shows that we concentrate best in 20 to 40 minute bursts. Whether someone is revising for Maths A Level or an end of year science test, therefore, regular breaks are essential. If your child has been camped at their desk for hours, encourage them to have a rest and do something different. Fresh air and exercise is particularly beneficial, so a trip to the park or a quick game of tennis is always a good idea. Have a look at this article from the Telegraph for more detail: www.telegraph.co.uk
8) Find out how your child learns
It is easy to dismiss learning techniques as a bit airy-fairy. Knowing how you child learns best, however, will make a big difference to how effectively they revise. Mini white boards are great if your child is a visual learner (i.e learns from graphs, pictures, diagrams and writing things down). If your child learns by listening and speaking, encourage them to record themselves talking and to explain ideas out loud to you. You could also find some relevant podcasts for them to listen to.
9) Look into revision courses
Revision courses are a fantastic way for your child to consolidate their knowledge and improve their exam technique. Sometimes children feel more comfortable in a group than in a one-to-one setting and learn a lot from their fellow students. If you are looking for revision courses in London, Hampstead and Frognal Tutors host Revision Courses during school holidays. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
10) Prepare an exam plan
When exams finally arrive, timing is crucial. Students taking GSCEs and A Levels need to know how many marks each section of the assessment is worth and how long they should spend on each question. Lots of schools host mock exams, but if your child needs some extra practice suggest they sit an exam at home while you invigilate and make sure they stick to time. It’s so tempting to spend too long on questions – particularly on essay questions – but students who know how to manage their time always come out on top.