Person sitting an exam

11 top tips to help your child revise for their exams

Help them strive for their best possible grades with our expert revision guide

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11 top tips to help your child revise for their exams

GCSEs, A Levels and university exams are definitely some of the most stressful times in a teenager's lilfe.

"A relaxed, encouraging attitude in which you show support is probably the best approach"

Not only do they have to remember hundreds of facts, figures and dates, but they've also got to work on their question-answering technique and deal with the building anxiety as exam season edges closer and closer.

So when it comes to getting the best mark they can, revision is key - and it's also something which you, as a parent, can help them with.

York Notes consultant Mike Gould says: "Schools and teachers, quite understandably, often stand or fall on their exam results and this can transfer itself to students.

"This is perhaps even more true of parents – you want your best for your child, but that anxiety to see them do well can transfer itself too. A relaxed, encouraging attitude in which you show support is probably the best approach."

With exam season nearly upon us, we've enlisted the help of revision guru Mike to come up with some top tips for helping your child during this high-pressure time. 

Have a plan

Ideally, your teen should start their revision about two or three months before exam season begins.

"Don’t try to cram everything into a few sessions," says Mike. Instead, encourage your teen to make a timetable that assigns specific topics to different hours of the day. This will help them divide their time up properly so every subject gets the attention it needs.

Forget the hassle of writing out a revision timetable - is a brill website that creates a tailored timetable based on their exam dates. There's a useful app, too!

Provide a cosy revision nook

Whether it's a comfy seat on the breakfast bar, or at the head of the dining table, make sure your teen has their own allotted space to revise.

"Provide a comfortable, quiet place but let them do it where they feel most at ease," says Mike.

Encourage them

When it comes to knuckling down, positive reinforcement is important, according to Mike: "Even if they don’t do as much as you’d like – something is better than nothing at all."

Constantly asking what they've learned today over dinner might feel like you're helping and showing support, but really you might just be putting them under extra pressure during their time away from the books. Instead, congratulate them on how much time they've spent knuckling down that day instead.

Embrace a variety of methods

Revision can get a bit tedious at the best of times, so try mixing things up with colourful Post It Notes and gel pens.

Mike says: "Revision guides like ours, plus mind-maps and homemade index cards made up of key facts all work."

Focus on the core topics

When it comes to dividing up their time, encourage them to focus on the core topics which are listed on the exam list.

Mike says: "If your child doesn’t know them, check with the teachers yourself."

Find out what works best for them

Does revision in bed, or even on the bed, really work?

Mike says: "If the child thinks it works – fine! But I would think a bed is better as a place of refuge from work."

Get them to write things down

"Being able to visualise ideas or knowledge is part of the learning process," says Mike, and helps your teen absorb the information.

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Have regular breaks

Sitting in one spot for hours doesn't keep you entertained. Mike advises that there's no universal amount of time to spend revising. Instead, it depends on your child's attention span and the subject's intensity.

"Some learning is best done in small, regular chunks, rather in long sessions," he says. "Whatever you decide, the key thing is to have regular breaks or rewards. It is probably not a good idea to cram a lot of revision into one week and hardly any the next.

"You know your own child best – some are very driven and happy to revise to an extent most of us would find exhausting, and in that case I wouldn’t stand in their way from doing more."

Keep them fed and watered

"Try to make sure they are well-fed and watered, and get enough sleep," says Mike.

"Provide them with as many tools as necessary so they feel they are as best prepared as they can be – study guides like York Notes or those by other publishers can be of real benefit in helping children feel they have what they need at their fingertips."

Have a light read the night before the exam

Mike says: "The night before is probably not the best time to start revising new material (unless something vital has been forgotten), but better for a light re-read over everything they have done up to that point."

Keep calm

All of the same relaxation exercises you'd do yourself during a stressful period can be applied to children and teens, too.

Mike says: "Breathing, meditation or mindfulness exercises could help before an exam, as could something such as going for a walk, or doing something fun with the rest of the family such as a cheap meal out, or watching a favourite programme together (as long as it allows for a bit of revision too!)

"Students will have their own favourite music choices – get them to create a ‘revision playlist’ of music that calms them – or gets them fired up to do well. During the exam, it’s important to take proper time to read the paper and the questions carefully – and also to build in a strategic break for a couple of minutes part way through to evaluate progress, and check they are on track time-wise."

Make sure they're exam ready with our range of stationery and all the essentials or pop in store