8 Tips to Help your Kids Prepare for Exams
Want to make an impact on your child’s exam results? Take these eight tips and help your child prepare as thoroughly as possible for upcoming tests.
1. Get organised
Planning is a critical part of studying. Once you have a date for the exam, use this as the endpoint and prepare accordingly for the weeks prior, leaving your child as ready as they could be.
Having a plan in place is a great way to reduce stress when we have something important coming up. Help your child to draw up a study plan, detailing what you’ll cover in each session and how long you’ll spend doing it. Breaking down a large task into smaller, more manageable chunks can really help to reduce stress levels for exams that might feel daunting.
Once you’ve planned out the next few weeks, work with your child to develop individual study guides that cover a topic area within that subject. Our piece on developing the perfect study guide details exactly how to do this, but here are a few pointers to get you started:
- Ask the subject teacher what topics are likely to come up in the exam. Focus your study guides on these topics.
- Organise your child’s notes, reducing information down to only what is necessary.
- Test regularly so you know that your child is making progress
2. Know your child’s learning style
Your child could be putting countless hours in to help themselves prepare for an exam, but if it seems like they are struggling to retain the information then it could be a matter of how they are studying rather than how long.
Everyone takes information in differently. Some prefer a visual cue; others respond better to audio. As you monitor your child’s studies, work out what type of learning style benefits them most. Here are some options for each of the four main types of learner:
Visual learner: These types of learners need visual cues, like pictures or videos, to analyse information. Consider including lots of maps and charts of data in your child’s study guide.
Auditory learner: Auditory learners learn by listening to sounds. To get the best out of these learners, let your child repeat information aloud, and bring in audio-based question and answer tests.
Reading/writing learners: These types of learners prefer to either write things down or see them written down. Annotate handouts and complete written quizzes to help these learners.
Kinaesthetic learner: They are the “doing” learners. Try to incorporate games or activities into learning where children can get hands-on. Studying for a history exam? Act out a famous scene from history to learn about key events.
3. Teach them some new techniques
Whichever style works best with your child, be sure it’s not simply re-reading pages of notes. This type of informational churning doesn’t engage our brains. Despite the hours your child is putting into it, they won’t see a proportional benefit.
You could help your child by teaching them a new revision technique that gives them that extra boost. Here are just a few examples to try out:
- Flashcards: A tried, tested and trusted way of learning information. Write brief, clear statements on pieces of card and dot them around the house. Great for visual learners.
- Pomodoro method: It’s difficult for anyone to concentrate over a long period. Revising is no different. The Pomodoro method focus on short, intense sessions. 25 minutes of concentration is followed by a 5-minute break.
- Summary sheet: Split a piece of paper into two. On the right, write down key information, like concepts and events. Then on the left, write down questions that relate to that information. Cover up the right side and answer the questions for a quick and easy way to test your knowledge.
4. Reward good work
Studying hard is tough. As a parent, children respect your opinion and like to know when they’ve done well. After any studying session where your child has shown determination and progression in their work, reward them.
Cooking their favourite meal, watching a movie or playing a game of their choice or can help give children the little boosts they need to stay motivated when studying for exams.
5. Stay healthy
A rich, healthy diet has long been known to give us more brainpower and improve the skills we need to study. Healthy children will be able to concentrate for longer, be more motivated to study and have a better memory to retain information. Harvard University has drawn up the best foods for boosting brainpower.
The same goes for exercise. Exercise is a vital part of any child’s educational progress. Exercise has an established link to a reduction in stress, which is vital during the anxious exam period. Be sure to not let home studying get in the way of any exercise-based extracurricular activities which encourage your children go outside.
6. Provide emotional support
Succeeding in exams is difficult, and every child needs the emotional support of their parents to guide them through.
Focus on developing their confidence levels. A positive attitude is sure to affect performance in a great way when it comes to an exam. Do everything you can to show your child their hard work is paying off and is worth the effort.
7. Regularly test
To truly get a grasp of where your child is at with their studies, you need to test them. Testing is an essential part of the learning cycle. It allows your child to review their efforts and identify holes in their knowledge. It’s also been proven to result in better grades.
Work regular testing into your child’s study guides and use it to analyse what direction you steer your child’s future revision focus to.
8. Get a good night’s sleep
This is important throughout exam preparations, but especially the night before. A lack of sleep impacts our brain’s ability to function. We’re less able to concentrate, it reduces our creativity and it puts us in a bad mood. Together, it’s a recipe for a decrease in performance.
You don’t want this for your child at any stage, particularly before an exam. Do all you can to help your child get a good night’s sleep each night.
As a parent, you want to give your children every opportunity to help their future growth. At Nord Anglia Education, we offer the very best support, alongside an unrivalled curriculum, to deliver outstanding education to children all over the world. To see how a Nord Anglia school near you prepares children for success, head to our schools page.