How can you help your child prepare for his or her GCSEs?
Your child will need all of our support to achieve his or her best possible grades, so here is a guide as to what parents and carers can do to support their children though their exams.
The secret to doing well in exams lies in planning. You can help your child to create a clear revision plan and method of studying which will make him or her feel more in control of his or her work. Ideally, all topics should be revised a minimum of four occasions in the build-up to the exam period and obviously as often as possible during it.
How many hours a day should your child revise?
After a school day, each Year 11 pupil should be doing between 3 and 4 hours every evening.
On a non-school day, a good 6-8 hours a day should suffice.
How should revision be done?
Also, make sure the revision is broken down into smaller chunks. It’s best to do 30 minutes or an hour on one topic, take a 5 minute break and switch to another topic. Regularly, have some water. It’s even helpful to schedule in TV breaks and phone breaks as rewards for completing a revision session. Remember active revision is best.
Active revision, getting the brain to use the information as you revise it. It is better to write or draw out the relevant material rather then stare at it for hours upon end. Ideally, doing something different each time you revise. To help monitor that your child is doing an appropriate amount of revision you can check what was done previously and get them to show you what they have done at the end of that revision session.
What active study ideas can pupils use?
- Note making
- Bullet pointing
- Flash cards/Index Cards (Small bite size chunks or questions with answers written onto blank post cards)
- Flow diagrams
- Past Papers
- Revision posters (pin them to bedroom walls, on cupboards, backs of doors etc).
- BBC Bitesize (Use the right exam board though) and the SAM Learning websites (see below)
- Cornell Notes (Google it)
- Study groups (if friends aren’t distracting)
- Study partnerships (To test each other)
- Active recall
- Timed writing
- Testing yourself
- Getting tested by friends/family
- Create revision games
What shouldn’t pupils do?
Avoid social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter during revision sessions. Revising and social networking at the same time do not go together, despite the predictable claims otherwise from teenagers. However, using Facebook time as a reward e.g. 20 minutes online for accomplishing a target of two hours revision can be very effective. Avoid sweets and fizzy drinks. It is good to have a few healthy snacks to keep them going, but sweets, chocolate, fizzy drinks and especially energy drinks are only going to prevent pupils being able to concentrate.
What’s a good revision environment?
Pupils should make full use of the ENVIRONMENT they will revise in. They can put positive comments up in their rooms for encouragement e.g. “I can get that 9 in English”, “If I work hard I can do it easily “, “I will get 8 grades”, “I will succeed in my GCSEs”.
Lots of air, a warm room can make you drowsy. Make sure the room is light and airy.
No distractions. This may mean going to the local library to study.
Balance pushing the child to revise as hard as they can and providing support. It can be equally damaging to interrupt pupils revision with queries or demands, but offering to bring up a cup of tea before they get started and quietly refilling a jug of water can be immensely helpful or a surprise treat at the end of the day. Don’t resort to bribery but always try to speak about revision as a positive thing towards their goal of good GCSEs. Also, every pupil will have their own way in which to revise, so please be accommodating. Some pupils may need all their work around them as they study, even if this appears to be an almighty mess to everybody else. After all many are gong to be writing exams which test two whole years of work. As long as they appear to be working to a method and have clearly planned out their revision then it’s best to leave them to the way that works best (provided they are working of course). Try and make home life as calm and pleasant as possible, noisy housework while they have their books out can be frustrating to the keen studier. Remember things will return back to normal near the end of June.
Encourage your child to join family meals, even if it’s a busy revision day – it’s important to have a change of scene and get away from the books and computer for a while. Also encourage your child to take regular exercise. A brisk walk around the block can help clear the mind before the next revision session.
Just before the exam:
It’s important to get a good night’s sleep before an exam, so discourage your child from staying up late to cram. And make sure he or she eats a good breakfast on the morning of the exam.