Person sitting an exam

11 top tips to help your child revise for their exams

Help them to be the best they can with our expert revision guide

By Rebecca Shepherd, 26 April 2017
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 for your teenagers.

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

Not only have they got to remember multiple facts, figures and dates, but they've also got to work on their exam technique and deal with anxiety.

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

York Notes consultant, Mike Gould said: "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 who's given us his top tips. 

1. Have a plan

You could try making a timetable for them so different hours of the day are scheduled for different topics. Mike said: "Don’t try to cram everything into a few sessions."

2. Provide a cosy little nook

If it's a comfy seat on the kitchen bar, or at the head of the table - make sure they've got their own little space to revise. Mike said: "Provide a comfortable, quiet place but let them do it where they feel most at ease."

3. Encourage them

Mike said: "Even if they don’t do as much as you’d like – something is better than nothing at all."

4. Get them to use 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 said: "Revision guides like ours, plus their own index cards and mind-maps work."

5. Focus on the core topics

Try to get them to focus on the core topics which are listed on the exam list. Mike said: "If your child doesn’t know them, check with the teachers yourself."

6. Do things which work for them

Does sleeping on revision notes really work? Mike said: "If the child thinks it works – fine! But I would think a bed is better as a place of refuge from work."

7. Get them to write things down

That age old myth that a 'picture speaks a thousand words' really does work. Mike said: "Being able to visualize ideas or knowledge is part of the learning process."

8. Have regular breaks

Sitting in one spot for hours doesn't keep you entertained. Mike said there is no right set amount of time to spend revising as it will depend on your child and the subject. He said: "Some learning is best done in small, regular chunks, rather in long sessions. 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."

9. Keep them fed and watered

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

10. Have a light read the night before the exam

Mike said: "The time just before is probably not best for revising new material (unless something vital has been forgotten) but better for a light reread over everything they have done up to that point – like topping up the oil before you set out on a car trip."

11. Breathing, meditation or mindfulness exercises

Mike said: "Many of the same tips one would give to adults would probably apply to children here too; 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."

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