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Exam countdown: how to make the most of that last-minute revision time

Exam countdown: how to make the most of that last-minute revision time

It’s the start of the Easter holidays and exam time is almost here. There are only a few short weeks left before GCSE and A-Level exams kick off and the pressure is rising for students revising.

Parents can often feel powerless in these last few weeks. There’s still time to make a genuine difference to results, but how can we best help our kids prepare, and help them get the grades they deserve? Is the revision they’re doing effective? Are they covering everything they need to?

One powerful method of making the most of this countdown time between Easter and exams is intensive revision sessions with a private tutor. Private tutors can provide one-on-one coaching that’s tailored to an individual student, building on their school lessons and teaching them revision skills.

Does last-minute exam preparation work?
Staying up all night before an exam to cram in all the information you can is not the best way to prepare. But can intensive revision in the run up to exams help? It depends on how that revision is carried out.

Structured sessions of revision with a private tutor in the last few weeks before an exam are an extremely effective way of making sure information is retained, giving students the best chance in their exams.

How private tuition can help

Schools are great at encouraging revision and giving guidance on how best to do it, but teachers can only support students so far. Even with a great teacher, there’s only so much time in a school lesson that can be dedicated to individual kids. This can mean that stronger students are being held back by those working at a slower pace, or students who are worried about a study area are too shy to speak up in a busy class. And outside the school gates, they have to go it alone.

This is why a private tutor is such a powerful ally in the revision process – they build on the work the school has already done with a student, tailoring their sessions to the student’s specific needs.

With one-on-one tuition sessions, there is time to concentrate on particular areas a student wants help with. This tailored approach really boosts confidence, a crucial factor in exam success. A student going in to an exam relaxed and confident because they know they’ve covered the syllabus in their revision is better prepared than one worried about what they’ve missed.

How personal tutors teach revision techniques
Most of us think of revision as simply going over what has already been learned, but educational specialists understand that revision is a learning process in itself, and there are right ways and wrong ways of doing it.

Students need to learn how to revise effectively, and even those who are already doing plenty of revision for exams can be helped by a private tutor who can support them with techniques such as mind mapping, practice papers, memory techniques and essay practice. Often just addressing a subject in a different way can help students remember a concept or topic.

Active learning, not passive reading
Even if your child is already revising, they may not be using the most effective techniques of absorbing and retaining information. We all know the feeling of staring at a page but nothing going in! The truth is that effective revision needs to be active, not passive. Reading notes, or even copying them out or highlighting them, might look like good revision, but it’s actually not an effective way of making that information stick. Active learning means making connections between new facts and existing knowledge, understanding, analysing and really thinking about what you’re trying to learn so that it makes a permanent connection in the brain.

It’s hard for kids to learn this revision skill alone, so a personal tutor can really help by structuring last-minute revision sessions to be active, not passive, helping the student ask questions, make links and retain those facts.

Practice exam papers

Practice exam papers are a great method of exam preparation, but only if they’re used effectively. Casually filling in a practice paper during unstructured revision, with all the distractions of home, doesn’t get the best out of this tool.

The most effective way to use a practice paper is to experience it under realistic exam conditions. A private tutor can set up and monitor exam conditions, timing the paper and giving instant constructive feedback on the answers, making this a really powerful revision tool.

Intensive revision – there’s still time!
Personal tuition is such a powerful exam preparation method because it is tailored to each individual child, giving them a chance to ask questions and get feedback in an intensive, one-on-one environment. A regular 2-hour session with a personal tutor could be achieving more than days wasted struggling alone. Personal tutors can teach revision techniques, encourage active learning, concentrate on weaker areas and make that information stick so students are relaxed, confident and prepared when they sit down and turn over the first page of that exam paper.

Contact Fleet Tutors today to hear about our pre-paid packages of booster revision sessions. They enable parents and students to decide upon a suitable schedule of revision for their own needs to fit around other commitments. The Easter holiday is a great time to get started.

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