It is that time of year again when exams are looming and students are being urged to revise. That being said, many parents are happy to leave their kids to their own devices on study leave and hope for the best. This is not going to get the results their children want. Many students will end up frittering away their study leave and doing nothing constructive. It could be from lack of motivation but it also can be from not really knowing how to revise properly. So what exactly makes for good effective revision?
If in your youth, like me, you sat up for hours chanting passages from your textbook and notes like a mantra hoping that it would sink in, then keep reading because that has never worked. Trying to cram everything into your head in a few hours prior to the exam doesn’t help although countless students can be seen nervously flicking through the pages of their book just outside the exam room.
Firstly when revising, students are best to focus on the things they don’t know and clear these up so they understand them. There are usually very good revision guides produced for GCSE and A Level courses and these, if done properly, with the exercises and checking answers can be very helpful. The bottom line is making sure the student actually does the exercises and completes the book. Online quizzes, such as for GCSE, are also a very good way of testing knowledge. Using these and finding areas that are weak can then lead to more study on those topics to try and strengthen them. Quizzes also can boost confidence by showing a student what they do know and should not be underestimated as a tool.
Multiple choice type questions can only go so far however, and every exam always has some ‘big answer’ and hence big mark sections. These need to be practiced because students most often lose marks on these types of questions by not answering fully and in enough detail. Getting the teacher to give your child past papers and marking schemes so that they do the questions and can check their own answers is a very good way of tackling these.
Talk to the teachers; be aware of the predicted grades of your child and then talk to your child. Don’t be a stand-off parent, get involved and help them to plan out their revision and time off so that it’s used wisely and not wasted. Include some rewards for time well spent, targets met and to also make It fun. If they are going for particular grades then this time is all-important for them so get on board.
Another good way of helping your child could be private tuition just in the weaker areas of a subject; it can make a huge difference in a short space of time. Be aware that tutors get very busy just before exams and so finding one at short notice can be harder than normal.
Helping your child to make revision effective and productive is part of the recipe for examination success.
David Evans Bailey is currently studying an MA at the University of Brighton in Digital Media Art. He taught ICT and Photography at Secondary School level for several years as well as being involved in many theatrical and other endeavours. His background is an IT professional. You can see some of his artwork at www.davidevansbailey.com