How can parents help with GCSE revision?

February 11, 2019

GCSE revision strategy

How can parents help with GCSE revision?

GCSEs can often be stressful for parents as well as students. Many parents report feeling out of their depth and unsure of what to do to support their child without completely taking over or resorting to incessant nagging! Although GCSE revision is the responsibility of individual students, there are things that parents can do to help out and help boost productivity and morale. Here are my top 7 tips:

  1. Help them do a ‘stocktake’ of what they know and what they don’t know. To do this your child will need an up to date syllabus for the exam board they are studying for each of their subjects. Go through the syllabus with them and get them to mark each topic with a traffic light system – green for what they understand and just need to commit to memory, orange for topics they know a bit about, but not everything and red for topics they don’t understand at all and need to relearn.   This helps them to be able to set priorities for their revision. If their teachers haven’t provided a syllabus, you will be able to access it online (just make sure it is for the right exam board). This exercise helps them to be able to break a subject down into small bitesize chunks and can make revision more effective as they can hone in on the topics they don’t understand rather than falling in to the trap of revising what they already know.
  2. Help them with practice testing. Although it’s important for students to be able to revise independently, there are times when it is very helpful for them to have another person to test them on what they have just learned. This could take the form of testing with flash cards, asking questions at the end of a study guide section or simply asking them to explain a concept to you. Teaching something to someone else is a very effective way of embedding learning and this can be done at various points during the day such as on car journeys to school, at the dinner table, before bedtime or whilst cooking. Revision involving other people can reduce boredom and isolation.  It can also help you to keep an eye on their progress.
  3. Make sure that they have the right environment to revise. Some students like to revise in their bedroom, others prefer to be in common areas such as on the dining table or a shared office area. For them to be able to make every revision session count, it’s important that they are able to get down to revision quickly without having to lots of rearranging or moving stuff around from room to room. This can waste a lot of valuable revision time. Check with them what they need and see if there is anything you can do to help to make the environment more conducive to study.
  4. Check they have the right resources to revise. There are a few basic essentials students need before starting to revise. They need their notes from lessons, study guides or text books for their subjects, some past papers or worksheets and then stationery such as paper, pens, flashcards, post-it notes, folders etc. The exact resources they need will depend on their preferred method. Encourage them to add variety to their revision methods and to try new methods to reduce boredom. The most effective methods are ACTIVE which involve students actually using the information they are revising. Active methods include making mind-maps, posters, flow charts and timelines, answering questions, researching material from additional sources such as video or websites or making audio recordings.  However often the most popular revision methods students employ are PASSIVE which include activities such as reading and copying out notes.  Encourage them to make the switch to active methods.
  5. Provide accountability. Although it may make you unpopular, one of the most helpful things you can do is to take a ‘policing’ role and make sure that your child is actually doing what they have committed to. The teenage brain hasn’t yet developed this level of responsibility and common sense and so although they may appear mature in many ways, teenagers often lack the ability to self-regulate and get down to what needs to be done by themselves. Get your child to share their revision schedule with you and make sure you remind them at regular intervals of what they need to do. Be sure to praise them when they have completed their revision for the day too as this can be a powerful motivator to keep them going.
  6. Reward them. To keep the momentum going, decide with your child what types of small rewards would motivate them. Make sure these are available once the revision has been completed. These could be anything from a particular snack, their favourite meal, a movie, video game or going out with their friends. It’s important that they only get these rewards once they have done their revision for the day.
  7. Help them to see the big picture. Sometimes it can be hard to see the point of spending so much time revising when they could be doing other things. It can be useful to focus on the bigger picture of why they are doing GCSEs and why it’s important they do well.  Do they want to do ‘A’ levels? Go to university? Follow a particular career path? Spend time talking about their future in positive terms and encourage them to focus on GCSEs being a step in a bigger process. It can be powerful to actually get them to visualise themselves at different stages of their life which will really bring it to life and make it more real and more motivating.

If your child needs extra help with their GCSE revision strategy then take a look at my HeadsUp! Revision Strategy programme. Designed specifically for year 10 and 11 students to take the stress out of revision and make it more enjoyable! Available as a half day workshop, 4 part live webinar series or a 1-2-1 tailored programme.


Practical and interactive workshops to improve the effectiveness of GCSE revision and boost motivation.

Click HERE for more details


The HeadsUp! Webinar Programme is a series of 4 live and interactive webinars covering all aspects of GCSE revision.

Click HERE for more details


For students who prefer a more personalised approach, over 4 one hour 1-2-1 sessions we will cover a variety of techniques an strategies to improve GCSE revision strategy – either in person or via Skype

Click HERE for more details


for 7-11 year olds full of strategies to boost confidence, reduce worries, deal with anger and improve friendship skills.
Click HERE for more details


Calm Tookit for Parents stackEasy, useful and highly effective strategies to keep you in control even when your kids are pushing your buttons!
Click HERE for more details


Parent PowersA 4 week programme to take the stress out of being a parent and make family life more enjoyable.
HERE for more details

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This post was written by Beth Parmar