Q. My daughter has no idea what revision means – her school seems to offer no guidance. What can I do to get her back on the right track? Anna, Guildford
Revision is a study skill or strategy – a way to look again at past work in a way that helps us to retain and really understand it – so all homework is essentially revision. Teachers set tasks from quite a young age to ensure lessons have been understood and it’s certainly nothing to be alarmed about.
Good revision practice starts in lessons, says Andrew Halls, Head of King’s College School, Wimbledon, ‘Listen well in class. Revision is ten times harder when you are trying to understand the topic for the first time, as well as learn it.’
Practical details matter too: ‘Make sure you know exactly what you are revising and what the format of the exam will be. Look at the exam board websites and check your syllabus specification and its expectations. Exams are formulaic, so part of revision is about getting the technique right. Good teachers will help you with this.’
Get organised, he advises: ‘Find a big table or quiet space – switch off all electronic devices – and organise your notes and papers into different subject piles so that you can make sure you have everything you need and can fill in any missing gaps, worksheets or major topics.’ Class notes can be topped up from the right textbooks and relevant exam guides.
Revision timetables should be specific: ‘break each subject into sections and name these on the revision guide. You do need breaks, but not every 30 minutes.’
Advise your daughter to do plenty of practice tests. Good teachers will mark these – but exam guides often have tests and answers in them.
Finally there are holiday revision courses, usually in the Easter holidays if you feel she needs the extra help, but they sell out fast.