GCSE year can certainly be a stressful time for both you and your child. You want them to achieve their potential, gain the results they deserve and minimise any stress or worry along the way. All parents rightly wonder how they can help their child to learn and revise, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Well, we’re here to help. We’ve canvassed our team of super tutors to collate the 6 best ways to help your child revise for their GCSEs.
Use the advice in this post as a starting point and tailor things to suit your own child and how they work best. For more personalised advice you can contact us directly for a free consultation on studying for GCSEs.
1. Understand GCSEs
Before you can properly support your child through their GCSEs, it is important that you understand the GCSE courses they are studying. It’s also worth finding out what will be expected of your child in the exams. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to head back to school and learn the GCSE courses again! The key is to spend a bit of time researching these areas:
- Exam boards
- Broadly what content is included
- The structure of the exams
- Key dates for mock exams, coursework and eventually the real exams
This basic knowledge is easy enough to find, but will be crucial to properly help your child to achieve great results. Start by checking out the exam board websites for your child’s courses. You can find links to the main exam boards below in step 5. You should also discuss key dates and mock exams with your child’s school. They will also be able to update you on your child’s progress and the main areas on which to focus revision.
2. Build a revision plan
This is probably the most important bit of advice I can give anybody preparing for GCSEs. It’s very important to build a revision plan early in year 11. Set out the main topics for revision each week through to the exams. Revision sessions should be “little and often”. All the available evidence shows that regular revision is key to effective long term learning.
Our brains lose knowledge the longer we leave things without revision after first learning them. Doing a small amount of revision every week throughout the course is the way to go. I know it’s difficult to get a young teenager to focus on revision throughout the school year, but if they can do it then they’ll see the results in their mocks and eventually the real exams.
This need only be 45 minutes to an hour each week initially. You can then help them to increase their revision time in the few months leading up to the exams. Keeping to a flexible revision plan makes this process much easier.
3. Make revision efficient and effective
With all of this revision throughout the academic year, you might well be worried about the workload and stress your child could face. Well, the best way to prevent stress and actually reduce time spent working over the year is to revise efficiently and effectively. With some simple tips you can ensure your child gets the most benefit from short, regular revision sessions each week.
Essentially revision should be an active process, not a passive one. This means students should be ‘doing’ tasks and revising skills, rather than simply reading through notes. Revising in this way will push your child well ahead of most other GCSE students who picture revision as a boring process of reading through a revision guide or exercise book. With an active approach to revision your child can maximise the outcomes for the time put into revision. This efficiency comes from active tasks like doing practice questions and learning by using skills and knowledge.
Try encouraging your child to spend 45 minutes completing practice questions in their chosen subject for the day. Then get them to use the mark scheme available online to mark their own work carefully. Really focus on what the examiner is looking for. Then encourage your child to answer the questions again, carefully implementing what they’ve learned from the marking exercise.
4. Set up a dedicated learning environment
One of the best ways to help develop efficient and effective revision is to create a dedicated learning environment. Revising on the sofa in front of the TV just won’t cut it! The learning area could be a spare bedroom or simply a desk area in the corner of a quiet room. The key is to make sure the area, is quiet, free from distractions and focused on learning.
You can design the space to minimise distractions, with only work resources allowed in the learning area. Try rules like leaving the smartphone in another room and keeping the laptop locked on revision resources. Your child can also help to personalise the space by putting up revision cards or posters on the walls.
To help maintain this focus, keep revision sessions relatively short (40-45 minutes) with 10-15 minute breaks in between. Encourage your child to step away from the revision space during these breaks. This helps to train the mind to keep focused during revision time, with the reward of a decent break never too far away!
5. Use the best revision resources
Just a quick search on Google or Amazon will show you just how many different learning and revision resources there are available at GCSE level. It can be difficult to find the best quality resources. Quality resources can make all the difference. They should provide guides on key topic areas and a range of practice questions so your child can hone their skills and revise effectively.
It’s also important to emphasise that you don’t have to spend a fortune on GCSE revision resources to help your child. There are lots of great free resource websites including:
- Our own learn online page for GCSE maths and English – with a range of revision guides and worksheets available for free.
- BBC bitesize – a classic for a reason
- Exam board websites for past papers and schemes of work – AQA, OCR, Edexcel
Use these free resources as the base for your child to learn from. School should also provide important text books, practice questions and notes to support revision.
6. Ask for help when needed
Finally – and very importantly – both students and parents should be ready to ask for help with revision when needed. No one ever knows everything and asking questions and discussing topics can quickly broaden our knowledge base. It’s the same when revising for GCSEs. It also plays a crucial part in the “active” revision process outlined in step 3. Asking questions and discussing things helps students to think critically about things.
As a parent you should both ask questions yourself and encourage your child to ask questions and start discussions around their subjects. This could be with:
- an older sibling who has already done their GCSEs;
- you the parent;
- classmates at school;
- trusted tutors; or
- us and Tutor In – simply contact us directly for some free advice on GCSE revision
There is a lot to take in here and it can seem like a daunting process to properly help your child revise for GCSEs. Following these 6 simple steps will go a long way to helping your child achieve their potential. Remember steps 1 and 2 – start by researching the GCSE courses and making a revision plan with your child as early as possible.