A Levels & GCSEs are a major milestone for every child across the UK. For some, GCSEs and A Levels are the only qualifications they need to start their career. For others, these exams are a stepping stone to explore different ways to learn and complete higher qualifications.
For students and parents alike, A Level & GCSE exams can be extremely stressful. It’s also common for parents to be unsure about how to best help their child study and prepare for their A Level/GCSE exams.
To help parents, particularly of younger students, Justin Craig Education has pulled together some advice:
1. Exam & Revision Planning
To support your child in preparing for their GCSEs you should:
Obtain a printed copy of your child’s exam timetable
Having your own copy will avoid any surprises before and during the exam period. Timetables are available on the exam board websites.
Help them plan out a revision schedule
Encourage your child to outline their revision timetable in the form of the written plan. This will also give them the opportunity to take responsibility and learn to prioritise their work.
There are limits to how much work can effectively be done in a day. Relaxation and leisure activities are important for keeping students healthy and well-balanced.
Timing revision sessions
To allow enough time to really get to grips with a particular topic, we recommend that pupils aim to revise a particular subject for around 2 hours. However, for students who struggle with staying focused, it’s better to start with shorter revision slots, covering a variety of topics and frequent short breaks. Ideally, focus on no more than 2 subjects on a school night and 4-6 subjects over the weekend, which will help you revise effectively.
Plan for breaks
Your child needs regular breaks to maximise their productivity. Ideally, regular 5-10 minutes breaks plus longer ones for meal times should keep the level of productivity high. A revision timetable could also include ‘treat breaks’ to punctuate the learning process and keep the students motivated.
Although we understand parents want their children to succeed, continual questioning about revision can sometimes be viewed as interfering and may have a negative effect.
Establishing specific location to revise
Having a number of study places is important as having specific locations where your child can sit down and focus solely on their revision is essential to their concentration and thus productivity.
Find a good study space
Finding the right study space where students can sit down and focus solely on their revision is essential for their concentration, productivity and to reduce exam anxiety.
Whether it is a local library, a quiet room or some other study room, your child needs a space to study away from distractions.
Avoid the bedroom
Revising in their bedrooms may not be the most productive place to study. Remember to also take breaks outside of study spaces.
2. Revision Techniques
Before your child can start revising, consider the many revision techniques available and which ones may suit them the best. Do they make good use of textbooks? Would they prefer worksheets? Do they like taking mock tests? Do they value online support?
Your child needs to try and assess from past experience which revision techniques work best for them. They will vary from student to student depending on the subjects and the learning materials they have been provided with.
The following is a selection of tried and tested revision techniques:
- Create a revision timetable
- Take regular study breaks
- Use mind maps to help connect various ideas
- Understanding learning style
- Practice often
- Collaboration with classmates
- Mix study habits to avoid repetition
- Adapt for different subjects
- Use student apps
Here are some questions which may help each student decide which method works best for them:
- Do they prefer to study through visual aids such as graphs, diagrams, and charts?
- Does your child learn best through interacting and discussions?
- Do they tend to work well going through their notes and textbooks?
- Does your child prefer revising by going over questions and answers completed in class, quizzing themselves and practicing mock exams?
Rather than just reading notes, actively engaging with the material through memory techniques and practice questions is the most effective strategy.
Some subjects might require additional effort if they are not as confident with the syllabus, for which it could be a good idea to consider revision courses for A Levels and GCSEs, which are short, concise and intensive.
How much revision should your child do a Day?
We recommend that your child spends around 15-20 hours each week to revise for their exams. While this may seem like a lot, when broken down this is three to five hours a day. Your child can then use the weekend however they please.
3. Revision Resources and Materials
Preparing for exams: What resources should pupils use?
You would not be expected to put up a shelf without tools, so why would you expect your child to be successful in their exams without the right resources to help them revise and prepare?
Supplies & resources
Make sure your child has everything they need for their revision. In addition to resources supplied by the school, ensure they have the correct and up-to-date textbooks and revision guides for their subjects. They need to be comfortable with the various tools required and be able to use them competently in their exams. There are also various revision related applications, such as quizlet, which many students find helpful.
Throughout the year, make sure your child keeps various handouts, worksheets, mock tests, and answer sheets provided to them by teachers and tutors.
Ask the teacher
If they are missing some important material, whether notes or past papers, encourage them to ask for it. Teachers will appreciate that they are being proactive about their learning and revision.
Tutoring, study groups & revision courses
Revising can seem to children like an extremely solitary task. However it doesn’t have to be so.
- If your child works well with certain friends or is in contact with students who do well in particular subjects, encourage them to reach out to them and perhaps form a joint study group.
- Alternatively, having a tutor or signing up to a revision course could benefit your child greatly. Whether they are working one to one with their tutor, or as part of a small revision group, these two options could provide your child with more support and structure they need to excel. They offer expert advice, show students what to look out for and what the examiners expect from their answers.
- Revision courses can be a valuable investment towards helping your child revise effectively, to help them structure their study time more proficiently instead of spending time worrying about revision. This can also give them the opportunity to share their anxieties, discuss topics to help them enhance their understanding, and benefit from each others strengths.
If you’re interested in how Justin Craig’s courses can help your child with their exam preparation, please get in touch.