With exams not far around the corner, James Ralphs, Head of Sixth Form, has provided some top tips to help guide you and your child through their revision. However, it is important to encourage their independence, so please remember that, while you naturally want your child to succeed, they are the one doing the revision, not you!
By now your child should know the exact date for each of their summer exams. Referring to the subject syllabus, they may wish to start by identifying all of the different topics that they need to know. Before each exam, they will need to have written their own revision notes, learned them and tested themselves using questions from past exam papers. Each stage will take longer than they might think, so it’s vital that they plan ahead to leave themselves enough time for all stages.
Be concise, not expansive
When revising it can be tempting for your child to just copy out the class notes they have in their folders. Pupils do this as it requires less effort and concentration. While there are merits in repetition (as shown by Atkinson and Shiffrin’s Multi Store Model of Memory), learning a large amount of information is very difficult. Therefore, to ensure your child can anchor the content in their long-term memory, they need to condense their notes into manageable chunks. These chunks should also contain trigger words that will help them remember the whole topic area.
Flash cards or mind maps?
There are many different ways for your child to condense their classroom notes. It is important that they find the method that suits them best. Flash cards can be useful for listing trigger words or phrases that link to an overarching topic. Triggers can be equations or other key terms too, any of which can be very useful as a quickfire way of testing their memory. Mind maps allow your child to draw links between concepts and examples that create visual ways for remembering essay plans.
Tutorials would be the perfect opportunity for your child to discuss methods of revision with their tutor and decide upon the one that works best for them.
Have a regular routine
When freed from the daily routine of school life it can be difficult for your child to be strict and get down to revision – especially during the Easter holidays. Building on the ‘Plan aheadI’ section, suggest, when you are consulted, that they make a revision timetable that clearly identifies which topics and subjects they are going to be revising – and when. Ensure that they think about scheduling in regular breaks throughout the day and mix up the subjects that they are covering, so that they don’t get bored.
Find a productive working environment
It can be tempting to revise with friends, but we all know this will eventually lead to distraction. Your role is to encourage your child to find a place where they will be able to work uninterrupted for the period of time that aligns with their revision timetable.
When revising at school, you might like to advise them to mix up where they work and put themselves in a location, such as a subject room, where they can get help from their teachers.
Make time for testing
This doesn’t have to mean writing out an essay or completing a whole past paper. It can take the form of verbally recalling a set of flash cards that they have just learned or writing out a detailed plan for an essay. As the start date for their exams gets nearer, it is important that they practise completing past papers in exam conditions too. They should practise writing their answers to a constricted timeframe or without their notes, then go through them with a mark scheme and revisit any revision notes that they were unable to recall. Exemplar past papers can be found on each exam board’s website.
And finally ... PUT THE PHONE AWAY!
Sharing another Snapchat or checking whether friends have updated their Instagram story can be a tempting way to procrastinate. Suggest that they turn off the Wifi on their laptop and put their phone on the other side of the room – in flight mode. This will help them to work distraction-free. There is a lot of work to be done, and this simple action will allow your child to concentrate undisturbed – and help them to be more successful in their exams. Plus it may have benefits for the rest of the family too!