insideSUSSEX Magazine Issue 14 - April 2016 - Page 79

EDUCATION TOP TIPS ON HOW TO REVISE EFFECTIVELY FOR EXAMS The Easter holidays are here, and for parents with children taking important exams this summer, now's the time to offer all the support you can to your very anxious teenagers. Whether it’s for GCSEs or A-levels, according to Matt Croft, head of teaching and learning at Hazelwick School in Crawley, revision works best when it's a joint venture between parents and children. The run up to exams can be a tense time, but family members, whether they know the subjects or not, can be a great support. The first thing to do is to ask your teen how you can help, and you’ll get clearer direction about how you can be of assistance if you start the conversation by asking things like: “Have you planned your revision; do you need any help with your plan? How can I support you?” Parents should always have high expectations of their children, but they should also be aware of their anxieties and their need for regular breaks. It’s also very important for parents to understand that their children are thinking about their next steps: GCSE to A-level, and A-level to university. Between Easter and summer fall some crucial months and big changes in their lives are about to happen; sometimes it can feel as though the earth is shifting right under their feet. It’s important to remember teenagers need routine, at home as well as in school, especially during A-levels, where a lot of independent study is required. They need the right environment to work in at home, such as a quiet space and a tidy desk. There's a lot of pressure on them, so comforting advice and support is much appreciated, as well as being confidence boosting. It’s helpful for all parents to recognise where their children’s motivation lies. It can come from factors such as being the first person in the family to go to university, but it’s vital to remember that all most children really want is to make their family proud. TOP REVISION TIPS FOR STUDENTS: “The most ineffective way to revise is to read notes,” says Matt. “Not much goes in; minds wander, and too much time is spent ‘working’ for very little learning. Effective revision should be active and involve doing things, so: • make fact cards • draw mind maps • highlight notes • make lists • write essay plans • answer past questions “Don’t work for hours without a break; memory and recall become less and less effective over time, so plan your revision in sessions of up to one hour and take a short break between sessions. Change topics each session too – this is really hard to begin with, but it’s a really effective strategy. It focuses your mind to get a certain amount, or a particular task done in a set time, and makes the time spent revising really count.” “For revision sessions to be useful and worthwhile you need to make a few sacrifices. Find a quiet place to work; leave the TV switched off; and tell all of your contacts on things like Facebook and WhatsApp that you are exiting the social media world for one hour. It will make it easier to put your 79 phone on silent and move it out of sight. Your reward at the end of the session can be a quick communication frenzy, hopefully telling everyone how brilliantly you have just worked!” “Make sure you include lots of essay plans, past questions and past papers; application of knowledge carries more marks than recall in some subjects. Look at mark schemes and examiners’ reports too, that’s how you will learn how examiners expect you to answer questions, what gains marks and, equally and importantly, what does not gain marks. Around half of your revision time should be spent on past questions.”