Exams are a big deal in a child’s or teen’s life, particularly for milestone exams like GCSEs or A-Levels. The outcome of years of studying hinges on how they do in a 2 to 3 hour exam. It’s no wonder many kids put so much pressure on themselves to do well. But this pressure leads to worry and anxiety. However, with the right revision prep, your child will be able to go into any exam being calm and focused.

Here is a list of 10 revision tips for your child to make their revision a little less difficult.

10 top revision tips

1) Take Breaks

Revision is not a competition about how many hours someone can continuously sit in a chair and stare at a piece of paper. Everyone is better off taking regular breaks, doing shorter hours and concentrating properly. Remember that habits are hard to break and your child doesn't want to find themselves associating revision with hours of staring into space. Instead, when they sit down at their desks to revise, they need to do so with the full intention to concentrate properly and with the promise of regular breaks.

2) Use different senses

Our bodies are built to process information from all of our senses, so why not get your child to harness this to help with revision?! Using sound and providing stimulating sight are both particularly effective ways to commit information to memory.

For example talking to oneself out loud can be a good way to connect different bits of information in your head. Also using different coloured pens to signify different information and making mind maps to strategically place information on the page is a good way of using sight to one's advantage. Mind maps can be a very powerful tool and pupils will know mind maps are working when they can not only remember the information they need but the colour it was written in and where it was on the page!

It's all about actively learning. Don’t just let your child passively read their textbook, but instead encourage them to take notes, highlight, talk out loud and even walk around and shout the information if it will help it go in!

3) Little and often

It's amazing how quickly we can forget how to do certain tasks. A a result, revising little and often really helps to keep hold of everything a student has learnt. This is specifically important in relation to Maths and Science subjects as it is can be easy to forget how to solve certain problems.

Students will find it's infinitely easier and less time consuming to remind themselves how to solve something than to completely relearn how to do it. So help your child by creating scenarios for them to refresh their memories. For example, carry out a short quiz on a car journey and ask your children quick fire questions about their learning.

4) Set goals based on achievement

Students should judge their revision by the quantity of things that they have achieved and not by the length of time that they have been revising. When they make their revision timetable, help them to make a list of things they want to have achieved by the end of the day. For example, a revision timetable could look like the following:

Day of the Week: Tasks to complete today Tick when completed
  1. Make a mind map on Henry VIII’s wives
  • Break   -
  1. Answer 20 Maths questions on differentiation
  • Break   -
  1. Make flashcards on the cells in plants

Not only will having a list give the student a good sense of achievement when it's completed, but in
structuring their revision this way, they'll limit their procrastination time and incentivise
themselves to work more productively. Also, take an interest in your child's learning and ask them how they have got on.

5) Suggest to your child that they ask their friends over for a debate or discussion

This is especially important when students are revising humanities - having a conversation with a friend that also studies that subject can be a great way to help remember information. Equally, when a subject is subjective, having a conversation or debate can open us up to a different point of view, which could diversify and enrich essays. Equally, a conversation or debate can force students to recall information in order to validate their argument, which is a great way to make them remember it. It is also more fun not to only revise alone.

6) Get a study buddy

Let your child ask a friend to be their study buddy for each subject. This is so they can help each other with revision. Teaching somebody something is a great way to commit information to memory so take it in turns teaching each other different bits of the course. It's a good way to make revision more interactive and an equally good opportunity to help each other understand the areas of the course that they each find more difficult.

7) Practice Practice Practice!

Practice papers are essential. Not only is testing oneself important in solidifying something in one's memory, but completing practice papers will also help to perfect exam technique. Your child will get use to the way questions are phrased and practice working under time pressure so that it doesn’t faze them when they are doing the real thing. Exam technique is vital as there's nothing more frustrating than knowing all about the subject but losing marks for running out of time due to misunderstanding the phrasing of the question.

8) Tackle the hardest subject first

It can be hard for anyone to motivate themselves to do something they find hard and tedious. Try to convince your child to tackle these harder subjects first so that they don't risk being forgotten. They can then reward themselves by doing some revision on a subject that they find more interesting or taking a break. Also by doing revision for a harder subject when their mind is fresh in the morning, they may find that they improve quicker and that it gets easier. All subjects matter and they don’t want to have a subjects that pulls their results down.

Take away tech

In the era of online learning, this sounds like odd advice but it's important sometimes to put away your laptop and handwrite instead. Studies have shown that it's harder for people to remember what they have read when they read it from a screen, so students should try handwriting or printing out their notes to maximise efficiency. It's important to give our eyes a rest from screens! Another benefit to this is that most people still have to handwrite exams so it can be good practice to get use to handwriting things again.

10) Make sure your child takes some time before the exam to relax

This is not so much a revision technique but an exam day tip. Taking some time to themselves before the exam is so important for all students. Don't let them overwork themselves and run out of steam before the exam. Trying to memorise all flashcards outside the exam hall isn't helpful and will only serve to heighten a student's stress. Following a revision timetable in the weeks leading up to the exam is a good idea to make sure a student is happy with how much work they have done. This sort of structure should allow students to be calm on the morning of the exams.

Revision is very personal and not all these techniques will work for students. Some people are more visual, others prefer to hear things out loud. It's best for your child to start revising early and also try lots of different revision methods to work out what works best for them.

The most important thing, as a parent, is to take an interest in your child's studies and also try to stop your child from getting too stressed about their exams. Pupils will never flourish in exams or reach their academic potential if they are feeling tired, overworked and nervous. They need to understand that any exam result is fine as long as they have tried their best - it's not possible for any students to do more than this when preparing for exams.

If, further down the line, an exam result is not what a pupil is expecting then there are always different ways parents (and teachers) can help to support a pupil.

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