EXAM PAPERS PLUS BLOG > CATEGORY > Studying and Revision
Today’s post comes courtesy of exam experts, Justin Craig, who provide tuition and revision support to students from their revision centres throughout the UK.
Taking a mock exam is an excellent way for students to identify any areas that they need to improve in for the final test.
With final exam dates scheduled for the summer months, encouraging students to revise nine months in advance can be tricky – especially when they have other coursework deadlines to meet beforehand.
However, it’s important to remember that no matter how soon your child’s exam is, there’s still time to help them achieve their goals.
Mock exams are used as a form of assessment to test a student’s aptitude and knowledge. They are also an excellent way for students to find out what revision techniques work for them. Whether they’re kinesthetic, auditory, visual or read-write learners, it’s clear that one type of revision and learning does not fit everyone.
Knowing how to move on from disappointing practice exam results is a real challenge. Many parents face communication barriers with their kids, and it can be difficult for either party to know how to improve their revision techniques. Students often feel at a loss when it comes to working out where they went wrong, that’s why mock exams are a great way to help them identify their weak areas.
Once a student knows their strengths and weaknesses, it’s easier for them to find the right method to improve their study techniques and raise their grades. Many experts believe that the best way to improve exam grades is to start early, get organised and learn in short bursts.
Through regular testing and spacing out of revision, information sinks in more effectively.
Here are five tips to help your child improve on disappointing mock exam results.
Attend Scheduled Revision Courses Throughout the Year
Whether your child attends revision classes at school or in private, a one day course set throughout the academic year will give them a confidence boost when it comes to revising. Even a 2 or 3-day course during the school holidays prior to the exam will help improve their study techniques and raise their grades.
Use Revision Guides
Whether your child uses CGP revision guides, examination board revision guides or those provided by your child’s school or college, each will have all the information your child needs to revise their coursework.
Revise in Small Study Groups
Revising in small study groups that are exam board-specific allows students to study the topics they want to cover. Study groups can also be tailored to specific subjects based on individual student needs.
Find the Right Environment to Revise in
Revising in front of the television or in a room with a lot of noise isn’t a good idea. Too many distractions can lead to students becoming stressed and unable to retain important information. Try to encourage your child to study in the dining room, or another quiet place away from distractions – finding the right study environment is essential.
Hire a Private Tutor
Hiring a tutor can help address any knowledge gaps and provide students with invaluable insights and tips. Choosing a subject-specific tutor who is familiar with the syllabus will ensure that your child covers everything they’ll need to know for the actual exam. A tutor can also help identify the most appropriate revision techniques and the best way to tackle exam papers.
Whether your child is preparing for a primary school exam, or simply revising for a class test, helping them develop effective study skills will benefit them now and in the future.
Sometimes it’s not what your child studies but how they study that ensures good exam results. In this post, we’ve outlined the most important study skills for primary school children.
One of the most important study skills that your child can learn at primary is how to organise their work for independent study. At primary school, most of your child’s work is allocated by their class teacher and so they don’t often get the chance to manage their own workload. When it comes to studying at home however, your child needs to be able to organise their studying on their own.
As a parent, you can help your child develop organisation skills by encouraging them to plan ahead and document their tasks. Creating study planners, mind maps, to-do lists and using diaries are all good ways to help your child plan their work.
You should also make sure that they have all the resources they need to study outside the classroom. For example, creating a quiet space at home that has all the books and stationery that they’ll need can provide them with a good starting point.
Note-taking is an essential skill that your child will use throughout their academic career. You can help your child develop these skills by encouraging them to identify important information and pick out keywords and phrases.
Encourage your child to be an active listener and to decide what information is the most important. The number one mistake that students make when note-taking is writing down every single word. By encouraging them to abbreviate and use symbols, they’ll be able to take down notes much quicker and they’ll be able to understand them afterwards.
It’s also a good idea to encourage your child to focus on the quality of their handwriting. Because note-taking can be time-sensitive, students have a tendency to scribble down notes without paying much attention to legibility. If your child can take legible notes quickly, they’ll have a far easier time when it comes to revising them after.
For more information on how to take great notes, check out this video from Well Cast:
Every now and then, your child will come across a topic or concept that they don’t quite grasp. And if they’re studying at home, they won’t have the luxury of being able to ask their teacher for help. This is where having good research skills comes in useful.
Encourage your child to use the resources they have to hand. This could include you, as a parent, books, textbooks, the internet, or friends. Likewise, you should encourage your child to use more than one source of information. By double-checking facts and figures against various sources, your child will be far more likely to arrive at the correct answer or methodology.
Most primary school kids are used to being told what to study and when, so it’s no surprise that they often find it difficult to manage their time when studying or revising on their own. You can help your child improve their time management skills by helping them allocate specific time periods to certain tasks.
For example, if they’re studying for the 11 Plus exam, you might suggest that the first night, they allocate half an hour to Maths and half an hour to English, followed by half an hour of verbal reasoning and half an hour of non-verbal reasoning the following night.
Using practice exam papers can also help develop your child’s time management skills, especially if they take them under timed conditions. By encouraging your child to do practice papers under exam conditions, they’ll be able to identify what types of questions take longer and therefore where to allocate more time on the day of the test.
Revision and Studying Skills
We have a whole section of our blog dedicated to helping your child develop their revision and studying skills but we thought we’d provide an overview of the most effective ways to improve these skills:
- Start studying early. The more time your child has to study, the more material they’ll be able to cover before the day of the exam.
- Revise little and often. It can be tempting to allocate large chunks of time to studying in the run up to an exam, but breaking down study time into smaller chunks will help your child retain information better.
- Record revision notes. Encouraging your child to read their written notes aloud into a voice recorder can help them remember important information. It also encourages them to take good notes in the first place, knowing that they’ll be referring to them again later.
- Use revision games. Exercises like Teacher Roleplay and quizzes can make learning that little bit more fun and help your child retain information in a more relaxed mindset.
- Do the hard stuff first. It’s natural for primary kids to procrastinate on difficult tasks but encouraging them to tackle the hard stuff first will make the rest of their studying more enjoyable.
Just as children have different learning styles, they also respond differently to various learning strategies. As a parent, you can try one, or a combination of these strategies with your child to help them learn more effectively and retain information better. As American psychiatrist William Glasser found, we learn better in some ways more than others. According to this graphic from Quote Addicts…
Bearing this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective learning strategies for primary school students.
Taking notes, either from textbooks, or existing classwork, can be a great way for your child to remember important bits of information. If your child enjoys reading and writing and English, then this may prove an effective learning style for them.
Note taking is a skill and the aim isn’t to simply rewrite work. Instead, it should be an exercise in identifying essential information that will be useful to recall at a later date. For younger children who may find taking notes a challenge, picking out important info using a pen or highlighter can be just as effective.
Every good study plan starts with organisation. By organising their work by subject, topic and sub-topics, your child will be able to access the information they need to study much quicker. The very act of organising information can make a student feel more in control of their learning, seeing as they’re taking direct responsibility for their work. Organising information can also include categorising, arranging by theme and forward planning.
It can also be a good idea to organise information physically, i.e. by making sure that your child has space to store their notebooks, folders and other learning materials. A cluttered workspace doesn’t do anyone any favours, so consider investing in some desk organisers and desk tidys for your child’s bedroom.
Creating Visual Reminders
Whereas note-taking and highlighting is primarily a reading-based learning strategy, flashcards, post-it notes and mind maps all make use of visual recognition. If your child is naturally artistic, then creating flashcards with important keywords or formulas on them can be an effective way to help them recall information. Try sticking flashcards or post-it notes around the house and every time your child comes across one, encourage them to explain the keywords or notes in more detail.
Retrieving Prior Knowledge (Verbally)
Seeing as we remember 20% of what we hear and 95% of what we teach someone else, verbally explaining information can be a great way of remembering facts and figures. A good learning strategy to try is asking your child questions from their classwork, or textbooks. Questions like ‘can you tell me more about xyz’, or ‘what do you know about xyz’, will encourage your child to recall information without having any notes to hand.
This can also be a great way to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If there are any topic areas that they need to improve in, you can allocate more time to focusing on those in your child’s study plan.
A good revision game to try is ‘student as teacher’, where your child stands up as if in front of a class and talks about certain topics as if they were teaching it themselves. This is a particularly effective learning strategy for primary school kids that enjoy drama and acting things out.
A mind map is a visual representation of notes and information, presented in a structured, yet creative way. Sometimes called brainstorming, mind maps can be as detailed as your child likes, connecting thoughts and ideas around one, or several central topics. They can be a great way to organise notes around one larger idea and can improve memory and learning by 15% compared to conventional study techniques.
There also a host of free mind mapping software tools out there for kids who prefer to learn with technology. Software like XMind and MindMaple is a great way for your child to combine organisation with creativity.
Why not try one of these learning strategies for primary school kids as a way of mixing up their revision plan, homework, or studying. What you might find, is that a combination of several learning strategies is the most effective way for your child to retain information.
But knowing what material to focus and exactly how to approach revision can be tricky. To help guide your child in their revision, we’ve put together this post, which specifically covers 11 Plus revision techniques.
Knowing How Long to Revise For
Assuming that your child still has several months before they’re due to take the 11 Plus test, revision should be spaced out throughout the week. The average 10 or 11 year old can only concentrate at full capacity for around half an hour, so revision session shouldn’t be any longer.
A half hour of revision every other night several months before the exam, should be plenty of time to improve your child’s chances of success. As the exam draws nearer, you can increase the amount of time spent on revising by working through practice exam papers, which we’ll cover later in the post.
Improving 11 Plus Maths Core Skills
As part of the exam, your child will be required to answer a series of Maths-based questions. One of the best ways to improve your child’s maths skills is to ensure that they can tackle any question within the Key Stage 2 Curriculum. Having a good grasp of numeracy and problem solving should help see them through most types of Maths questions that could come up on the day. For more information on how to improve your child’s Maths skills, take a look at our post An 11 Plus Guide to Maths.
Focus on 11 Plus English Core Skills
One of the most effective ways to improve your child’s 11 Plus English skills is to focus on literacy. By encouraging your child to read curriculum texts and pay particular attention to English classwork and homework, their literacy skills will be improving all the time.
When looking over your child’s classwork, be particularly vigilant with spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary. Having a good grasp of the basics will help you child when it comes to answering standard format questions in the exam.
Develop 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning Skills
Non-verbal reasoning is arguably one of the most challenging 11 Plus techniques to develop. Although your child will have some experience of non-verbal reasoning through the Maths curriculum, most children will need extra revision time to focus on improving these skills.
Non-verbal reasoning focuses on shapes and spatial awareness. A good way to revise for the non-verbal reasoning test is to study mirror images and work on addition and subtraction techniques using objects. For more information on how to prepare for this part of the exam, take a look at our post 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning Advice.
Improve 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning Skills
The verbal reasoning exam focuses strongly on vocabulary-based exercises. Like the English exam, you can help your child improve their verbal reasoning skills by working on paired reading, spelling and vocabulary building. Focusing on parts of speech, odd ones out, moving letters and missing words can really help improve your child’s success.
Using Exam Practice Papers
Around three months before the exam approaches, you should start to shift the focus away from the material and towards exam technique. One of the best 11 Plus revision techniques out there is to work through practice exam papers.
At first, work through practice papers with your child to make sure that they fully understand the question and they know the type of answer that’s required. Once they’re familiar with the layout of the exam, have them sit a few practice papers on their own, under exam conditions. This is a great way to identify their strengths and weaknesses and improve their time management skills.
Being able to recall facts, figures and spellings is a useful skill to have at primary level. Whether your child is preparing for an exam, a class test, or revising course work, it helps to have a toolkit of revision techniques to draw from.
But let’s face it, sometimes revision can be boring and it’s difficult for kids to motivate themselves. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favourite revision games that make revising more fun.
Create a Revision Song, Rhyme, or Rap
You know how easy it is for a song to get stuck in your head, now imagine if that song served useful a purpose. Rewriting the lyrics of a song, a rhyme, or a rap with your child can be a great way of helping them revise. Whether we’re aware of it or not, songs and rhymes actually form part of our learning from a young age. Remember these:
- Red and yellow and pink and blue…
- ‘I’ before ‘E’ but not after ‘C’.
- Thirty days has September, April, June and November.
The very process of writing down words and putting them into a song acts as revision in itself. Whenever your child needs to remember an important piece of information, they can sing the song back to themselves in their head and find the answer they’re looking for. This revision game is great for creative learners.
Make a Revision Quiz
Revision quizzes are a fun and engaging way to learn
This revision game is particularly effective when your child has a hand in creating the quiz. Together, write 20 questions that relate to the topic they’re revising. On the back of the same sheet of paper, write the corresponding answers. To make the game more fun, you could give out treats or rewards for correct answers.
If your child is a whizz on the computer, you could create the quiz as a PowerPoint presentation. And if they’re feeling particularly creative, you could have picture rounds, odd one out tasks and matching words to definitions.
It’s a good idea to include easy questions to boost your child’s confidence as well as difficult ones to challenge their knowledge and understanding.
This is a great exam revision game for when students need to have a deep understanding of a subject. With your child taking on the role of teacher, the aim is to have them explain a topic, concept, or theory to you as if they were teaching a class themselves.
Have them stand up as if they were in front of the class and have a blackboard or whiteboard readily available. This roleplaying game is lots of fun and will help your child explore topics in more depth.
As a parent, you can take on the role of student and ask questions that will prompt the teacher to remember certain facts and figures.
On a side note, teacher roleplaying is also a great homework game for primary kids.
Revision snap with flashcards makes revising more fun
If your child is a kinaesthetic learner, this could be a great revision game for them. Together, write down questions relating to a particular revision topic. Once you have all the questions written, write each corresponding answer on its own flashcard. The more flashcards you have, the more fun the game will be.
Scatter the flashcards across the floor and read out the first question on your list. Your child has to find the corresponding answer from all the flashcards, shout SNAP! and pin the correct one to a board.
This revision game can also be played with additional players, with each competing to see who can work out the answer first, find the card, shout snap and pin it to the board.
Make Voice Recordings
For auditory learners, making voice recordings is a great way to remember information. Using a dictaphone, mobile, or any recording device that can be played back, have your child read their revision notes out loud into the recorder.
Whenever your child finds it difficult to motivate themselves to study, have them listen to the recordings using headphones. Although this is passive learning, your child’s subconscious mind will still be able to retain the information and recall it on the day of the exam.
Whichever primary school test your child has coming up whether it be the 11 Plus, or SATs, it’s important that they feel confident and prepared for the big day. In this post, we outline our top revision tips for primary school children.
Start Revising Early
There’s no substitute for beginning a revision programme early. The sooner your child starts revising, the more material they’ll be able to cover before the exam. For the 11 Plus and SAT exams, it can be beneficial to start revising as far away as 6 months prior to the test.
Create a Revision Timetable
When it comes to revising at primary school, having a structured plan in place can make all the difference. Try to agree a study timetable with your child, half an hour every other night can be all it takes to improve your child’s confidence. A revision timetable can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or a handwritten table displayed in your child’s bedroom.
Find a Stimulating Place to Revise
A quiet place to study helps your child concentrate
It’s important that your child has a quiet place they can go to revise. Trying to get work done when surrounded by distractions of TV, the internet and other family members can be very challenging, especially for children of primary school age. Try to find a space at home where your child can revise uninterrupted for half an hour so.
Revise Little and Often
The average attention span of a 10-year-old is around 30 minutes, any longer and they start to get distracted and demotivated. When it comes to creating a revision timetable, make sure that you limit revision to half an hour at a time.
Record Revision Notes
An effective and fun way to revise is the have your child read their revision notes out loud into a voice recorder or mobile phone. Your child can then listen back to the recordings during revision time or in the lead up to the exam.
Try Some Revision Games
Revision games make studying more fun
Let’s face it, when you’re at primary school, revising is boring, so why not make it more interesting with some revision games? We’ve already written an article about revision games for primary kids, which includes games like Teacher Roleplay and Revision Snap.
Revising at primary school can feel daunting. If there’s a lot of material to cover, your child can sometimes feel overwhelmed at the amount of work they have to do. By breaking each task down into small, manageable chunks and staying positive, your child will learn the material more effectively and feel more resourceful leading up to the test.
Use Practice Exam Papers
Exam practice papers for primary school kids are a great way to prepare your child for an exam. At Exam Papers Plus, we have practice tests for the 7 Plus, all the way up to 13 Plus level. Not only do practice papers help familiarise your child with the layout of the exam, but they can be a great way to improve your child’s time management skills.
Stick Revision Notes Around Your House
Visual aids are a great tool for revising. All you need is some post-it notes with buzz words or formulas written on them to help job your child’s memory of their revision material. You can also test your child with revision notes by asking them to explain them verbally in more detail.
Do the Hard Stuff First
Children are at their most alert when they first start a revision session, so it makes sense to start revising the most difficult subjects first. Once the challenging parts are out of the way, your child will see the rest of their revision time as more enjoyable and will be more likely to retain the information they’re studying.
So, there you have it, our top revision tips for primary school children. If your child has a test coming up soon, try some of these techniques to mix things up a bit. And best of luck for the big day.
Towards the end of primary school, teaching starts to take a turn towards independent learning. Whether your child is creating a personal project, or revising for the 11 Plus, including grammar school entry exams, encouraging good revision habits will benefit them in the long term.
In this post, we look at how parents can help their children revise for exams.
What is Revision Exactly?
Revision is the practice of reviewing learning. In the case of class tests, it could mean reviewing classroom work that has been taught throughout the year. For the 11 Plus exam, it could mean focusing specifically on sample questions and putting knowledge and theory into action.
The main difference between studying and revising is that revision tends to involve placing knowledge within an exam context, whereas study requires active first-time learning.
The following graphic from educational company Inner Drive provides a good introduction to some of the ways you can help your child develop good revision habits:
Time management is an important skill to develop with your child
Know What Your Child Will be Tested On
Every successful revision strategy begins with planning. It’s important to take the time to understand exactly what your child is being tested on. If it’s a class test, what topic do they need to review? If your child is preparing for the 11 Plus exam, how is the test be structured in your local area?
(As a side note, we recently published a post about the best 11 Plus forums, many of which offer local information on the eleven plus exam).
Making the time with your child to revise for an exam is one thing, but ensuring that your child covers the relevant material is another.
Agree a Revision Plan
Creating a revision timetable with your child can strengthen their willingness to stick to a routine, given that they’ve had a hand in making the plan.
A simple table that outlines the days of the week is all that’s needed to get started. Choose specific times on individual days and plan what topics your child needs to revise in the run up to the test.
Remember, little and often is the best approach and breaking larger topics down into small chunks makes revision appear more manageable.
Combine Different Revision Techniques
Everyone learns differently but there are three main learning styles that can be used to form the basis of your child’s revision:
Visual learners tend to learn best through sight and react well to colour, pictures, diagrams and charts. It’s estimated that 29% of people are visual learners. Some visual revision techniques you might want to try with your child include:
- Placing post-it notes on a wall with important snippets of information
- Using a highlighter to draw attention to important elements
- Summarising notes presented as a display, e.g. on a whiteboard
- Adopting a traffic light system to chart revision progress
- Placing keywords around a room to recall associated information
- Drawing pictures and diagrams, creating mind maps and collages
Auditory learners learn most effectively through listening. Teacher-led classes, discussions and recordings can all help maximise an auditory learner’s capabilities. Approximately 34% of people are auditory learners. Some auditory revision techniques you could try with your child include:
- Making up rhymes, mnemonics, raps, or poems to remember information
- Recording your child reading their revision notes and then playing the recording back
- Testing your child by asking them questions aloud
- Encouraging your child to play the role of teacher and explain concepts and theories to you
- Having relaxing music on in the background while revising to help your child visualise and review their material
Learners who are kinaesthetic tend to retain information better through ‘doing’. Children who are kinaesthetic learners prefer to get involved in practical activities or roleplaying exercises. Approximately 37% of people have this type of learning preference. Some kinaesthetic revision techniques you can try with your child include:
- Using a computer to create a PowerPoint presentation
- Being actively involved in creating revision cards
- Role-playing scenarios that help find solutions to problems
- Playing revision games on interactive websites
In reality, although children may prefer a certain learning style, a combination of all three tends to produce the best results.
Revising with Exam Practice Papers
When it comes to revising for specific exams like the 7 Plus, 11 Plus, 13 Plus, or Independent School Entrance exams, working with exam practice papers is one of the most effective revision methods for children.
Not only do practice tests help familiarise your child with the layout of the exam, but they help them contextualise what they’ve been learning.
At Exam Papers Plus, we have a range of practice papers covering every primary-level exam and subject, including:
- 7 Plus exam practice papers
- 8 Plus exam practice papers
- 9 Plus exam practice papers
- 10 Plus exam practice papers
- 11 Plus exam practice papers
- 13 Plus exam practice papers
When it comes to teaching your child how to revise, it’s important to encourage good habits early on. Knowing exactly what your child will be tested on, agreeing on a revision plan, identifying their learning style and using practice exam papers will help ensure their success.
Do you have any more revision tips for parents? How do you help your child revise for exams? We’d love to hear from you.
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