How to support your child in their GCSE preparation

Sponsored: Discover Tutoring share their top tips for helping young people prepare for exams

As the new year arrives, we will all start to think about what we can do differently this year. What went well last year and what didn’t go so well? One common complaint from us all is that we could have been more productive. This also applies to students and in the modern era with devices lining the walls, there is no shortage of digital entertainment. If only our children could have spent a fraction of the time last year studying instead of playing on Roblox or posing for Instagram, they could be much better prepared for their GCSEs.

But how can we encourage them to be more productive and make better use of their time? Changes like this don’t happen overnight and if they do, they certainly don’t last very long. Most children simply don’t have the willpower to read about Shakespeare or learn about surds, when they could be watching their favourite show on Netflix or YouTube. So then how do we help them to break their bad habits and prepare for their own futures? We are here to give some tips and tricks which might just help. 

Break large tasks into manageable bites

Take a second to imagine how it feels when you are faced with a seemingly insurmountable task. At the bottom of a mountain staring straight up to the heavens, knowing that you are responsible for getting to the top. This is what GCSEs look like to students, they have to prepare for a series of exams which represents the work they have done over two years of their lives.

Not only this, but they are expected to take 9-11 of these two year projects all in one go. Exam season for these students must be the most stressful time of their young lives and one highly effective strategy to relieve this pressure is to break things down into manageable chunks. 

Let’s take a student’s day as an example. A student starts school at around 8:30am, depending on the school of course. This student will be learning all day at school and should rightfully spend their breaks doing just that, taking a break. This student might have an after school activity which brings us to 5pm, dinner time. After dinner the student now has probably two good hours in order to be productive before they get too tired and lose motivation.

If they split these two hours into two subjects and then focus on just one topic during that hour, suddenly the pressure becomes much lower to perform. The goal of the hour is to understand this particular topic or if it is a larger topic it can be broken in two once more! The student then can come away knowing something new and having made progress on their journey. 

Plan studying time in advance

Students who make coherent plans in advance will have a strong advantage over students who wing it, because not having a plan is step number one to procrastination. Productivity’s worst nightmare. Where an hour passes by when you were supposed to be studying and you haven’t even read a single page.

It is soul destroying to see your time disappear without making any progress at all. This is all avoidable however, and when you have a plan you can start working straight away and maintain focus on the task at hand. 

Having a plan means looking ahead and understanding the work that needs to be done. GCSE exams are intentionally staggered in order to allow sufficient time for preparation. As an example, GCSE English exams might be in May and June while maths exams are in April and May. There may be some crossover but there is nevertheless a certain amount of extra time built in to study.

A good plan will include: when you will be studying, what subjects and topics you will look at and most important of all it will have some extra slots available for spillover. It is inevitable that some topics will take longer than others and that is ok. There is however a balance between allowing extra time for difficult topics and also wasting time where few marks are to be gained.

This is why plans should also be made after you understand where the majority of marks are available. Don’t spend 80% of your time studying for 20% of the marks. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Sometimes certain topics just don’t click in our heads. We’ve all been there, staring at a textbook, maybe maths, maybe chemistry. A topic just like any other, but our brain just can’t seem to understand it. We can sometimes spend hours on topics that could be explained to us in a few minutes by the right person. This is completely understandable and students should not feel dismayed when they are struggling.

Some of us are able to help our children with these topics, but many simply do not have the time, can’t remember how to do it or can’t understand the content either! We all have our strengths and weaknesses and should not feel ashamed when we cannot support our children in the way that we want to. 

The solution to times like these might be getting a private tutor to help your child to understand the topics. These tutors have already been through the hard work of preparation and are able to quickly explain concepts to students in a way that saves untold hours of hair pulling and frustration. GCSE tutoring is increasingly common and though it was once reserved for the most privileged, it is more accessible than ever.

Online tutoring has revolutionised the industry and is allowing much more time-efficient and safety-oriented education. A student who studies online with a tutor is able to quickly fire up a laptop or tablet and reach an expert in the subject matter within minutes, all from the comfort of their study area and within earshot of loving parents. 

GCSE maths tutoring is a great example of a time where speaking to an expert can make the process much quicker indeed. A student spending an hour with a tutor would likely be the equivalent of two or more hours of self guided study. The importance of saving time cannot be understated, when there are another nine subjects that a student has to study for.

Another benefit of GCSE tuition is that a student will be fully focused for an hour, rather than being prone to distraction. Tutors are able to not only explain complex topics, but they can also help guide revision, set and mark homework and track progress as well. 

The students that perform the best will no doubt have understood the three points made in this article. They will be breaking large topics down into workable blocks, they will be using their time effectively having made a good plan and perhaps most importantly, they won’t be afraid to ask for help when they need it.

Discover Tutoring can help with the last point and we would be happy to answer any questions or concerns, anytime. 

We wish all students good luck for their GCSE exams and hope that this article was useful.

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