Top 10 Exam Preparation Tips

exam tips blog cover

No matter what age your children are, there is ALWAYS a range of things we can do to help them prepare for exams. 

I wanted to create something simple, without having lots of steps to follow or to create more work for you, or for them. I have found that homeschooling my girls at this exam stage to be much more time consuming than I had bargained for.

I hope that these techniques, that we have tried to put in place can help you and your children too.

10 tips to prepare for exams

  1. Start your revision early
  2. Organise your study time
  3. Look after yourself during study and exam time
  4. Vary your revision techniques
  5. Vary your locations of study
  6. Take regular brain breaks
  7. Know your exam papers
  8. Make sure you know the practical details about your exam
  9. Keep your language positive
  10. Get plenty of sleep and keep hydrated 

Starting your revision

If you are at school, then you will already know that the last months of the academic year are focused on revision. This can be harder when you are homeschooling, the best way we found was to work backwards from exam dates, allowing 3 months once the course was 'completed'. 
As a parent this means YOU will need to know roughly when the exams are and how to ensure that coursework is completed before you start revision

How to organise your study time

This really is the BIG ONE! 

Again, many schools will cover this and timetable during school and homework time for revision. However, teaching our kids to manage their time is a crucial skill. All that last minute cramming just leads to overwhelm and unnecessary stress.

The ONLY way to help, is to plan, plan and then plan some more.

The girls and I used the following system:
  • Break each subject down into topics
  • Plan topics into a month
  • Break the month into weeks
  • Break those into days
The easiest way to do that is using a planner. Luckily enough I had created one the year before for us to work through, you can get your downloadable version HEREYou can use it again and again (that is why it is designed without dates), so just keep printing them for each month, week and day. 

mums planner for 2021

How to look after yourself during exam season?

This can be the first thing to go out the window, so keep an eye on how the kids are coping.

This is as much about their physical health as their mental health. Keeping to a timetable will certainly help with increases in stress. If they feel that they are on target they will not be panicking that they are 'behind' and hence pulling late night studying or not taking breaks. 

The other points in the top 10 feed into this one. So keep reading for health tips during exam time. 

How to revise?

Another of the big ones, but I am hoping that both you and your children are aware of what method they prefer to learn by: audible, vision or kinetic. That is do they like to read the information, listen to it or find that physical learning works better. We usually have a method that works best.

However, once again mixing it up will usually help. We all tend to have a bit of a mix bag with this one, I know that I am a reader but WRITING it down ALWAYS helps me, (the research on this is pretty solid too, as it helps to reinforce the information in the brain), but if your child is dyslexic that might be harder for them. Again, there are no hard and fast rules here, just work with what works for your child. 

Another factor that is often missed, we can sometimes makes this stuff fun too! 

My girls love making flash cards. They reinforce my writing the key information down, then I can help them with either quick fire questions, or get them to provide longer responses, depending on the cards. 

It mixes in creativity which is such an important part of ANY learning. It add FUN to the subject and to the task at hand. 

Where to revise

Mix this up. If they love their room or study, great. But working outdoors can be a really simple way of changing the mood and breaking state. You can sit in your garden (if you have one), or make a trip out. Even if you just do this a quick fire revision tactic, it makes is more fun and can take the pressure off. 

Take brain breaks

You may have seen my other posts on this, but the research from the Neuroscience on this is VERY clear. Your brain needs to take regular breaks (kids and adults). It helps with everything from memory retention, to problem solving. Your brain is better able to add information, retrieve information and process information when it is not overworked. 

A brain break can be as short as 10 mins, and it does mean a break. Get off the gadget, put down the book and allow your brain to switch. This is even more effective if you add in physical movement and fresh air. 

The simple solution? Go for a walk, or a run. Do some quick short bursts of exercises you like. Drop in some yoga poses. The choice is yours, but it will help the physical, emotional and mental sides all in one lovely break! 

If you know that you or your kids struggle to remember, then schedule it. Put a reminder or alarm on your phone for every 90 mins. 

If you want some ideas then I created this video - it is designed for the younger kids and I was just messing around, but it will give you an idea. 


What is on your exam paper?

This has been a challenge during home schooling, as I had kind of assumed that this was covered in the tutoring and courses the girls were doing. It was, but not in a clear defined way. 

Make sure you know what an exam paper covers, how that paper is broken down and the marks associated with each question. Then you can help your child work on their strengths not be worried about what questions are coming.

Top tip - download previous papers. In the UK every exam board provides access to past papers, I know from others in Europe that they are also able to access them. Get some, and go through the structure of EACH paper as part of your revision strategy.

What happens on exam day?

Do not let simple logistics be a stress. Work out the days, times and how you are getting to an exam long beforehand. If they are going by public transport, ensure that they are all running normally. 

What do they have to wear? 

What equipment do they need to bring?

It all sounds so simple, but we can often overlook these points, in the assumption that our kids will know (which can prove to be a disaster). We want to empower our kids at these key stages, but we also need to acknowledge that they often just assume that 'adults' will have these details covered. 

Check before and then check again! 

The power of positive language

This is a BIG one for us in our house. How we use language is central to how we view ourselves and others. Language can be positive and empowering, or negative, belittling, hindering self-esteem, self-confidence and self-belief. 

I CAN DO THIS - a key affirmation that I have been asking my girls to repeat. Believe in the words you speak. 

Words have power. 

Affirmations are an amazing tool, for our children and ourselves. I have designed an affirmation pack for the Teenagers and also compiled a HUGE affirmation bundle that you can print out, it includes lots of blank cards, so you or your kids can create your own affirmations too, it has over 100 printable affirmations, suitable for all members of the family

affirmation bundle for page

Resting during exam season

As our kids get older, they feel they need less sleep and want to stay up later. This is part and parcel of their teenage years, but we need to help them realise that they need to be able to switch off at the end of the day. 

If they are not getting sufficient sleep at night, it will begin to impact how they study during the day. 

Resting at night will ensure that their brain's are able to be fully functioning the next day. This means you may need to be asking for gadget free times past a certain time. The evidence is showing that we need to be OFF screens for 1 hour before we are going to sleep, otherwise our brains are being tricked into thinking it is still daylight. Again, this is true for us parents too. Ditch the screens for one hour before you go to sleep, it will help you get to sleep easier and lead you to a deeper sleep quicker too. 

I would also add another TOP TIP - keeping hydrated during the day. Plenty of water will help with brain function and can often slip when we are going through periods of focus. 

And breathe.........

I love using breathwork, and if you would like to know some great ways of using the breath to help with exam nerves, overwhelm or increased stress then check out the Facebook Group, where I have posted some really simple breathing techniques that we use in the lead up to exams. 

Good luck on your exams, and remember that being mindful is a journey, we are all working on our parenting and it is as much a learning experience for us, as for our kids.




how to prepare for exams 


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