Study tips: how to prepare for exams

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” — Alexander Graham Bell

Preparation and planning are crucial in the lead up to exams. As a parent, helping your son build his planning skills will not only help him succeed in exams but also when he transitions into the workplace. Here are some study tips to help your son before he starts studying and whilst studying.

Exam preparation is also crucial in managing exam stress. For tips on stress management before, during and after exams, check out our blog here.

Before studying

As we have established, planning is key — here are some tips to help prepare:

  • Make a study plan
    Take the time to plan and create a schedule with your son showing when he is going to study. Be sure to balance the schedule with other important things in his life and allow for leisure time, this will make it more achievable.

    If your son is goal-orientated, it may be worth creating a goal for each day, rather than scheduling out every moment; establish when your son has the most energy and plan his study then. Exams often do not happen on the same day so your son will likely be studying for subsequent exams while exams are happening.

  • Plan breaks
    Balance the study plan with plenty of breaks. Neil Patel explains that productivity experts are yet to come to a consensus on how often someone should take a break, but it is somewhere in the region of 50 to 90 minutes, followed by a 15-minute break. We recommend sticking to 50-minute sessions followed by a 10-minute short break. Include longer breaks after several sessions.

    When your son does take a break, make sure it is an actual break. He should step away from his desk, have a healthy snack, and do something fun or physical like going outside for a brief walk or playing with the family pet.

  • Create a study space
    A study space that is comfortable, quiet, well-lit and organised with everything your son needs is crucial to exam success. By minimising distractions nearby such as TV, phone or people, every moment he spends studying will be more effective.

  • Choose rewards
    Find treats that will motivate your son to complete his revision work. This could include watching an episode of his favourite television show or spending time outside kicking a football with some friends.

While studying

While your son is working out his study plan, here are some tips to implement to help him study:

  • Ask for help
    Your son will likely get insight from his teachers on the exam focus areas and the best way to study, however if in doubt he can always ask his teachers for further guidance. Some teachers will be happy to be contacted during the time leading up to exams. Asking for help is so important in making your study effective and reducing stress.

    Let your son know you are there to help with his exam preparations. You could potentially help by marking test exams, quizzing him on key facts and getting him to ‘teach’ you about what he is learning. This not only helps him retain the information but increases his confidence in what he is learning.

  • Stay focused
    While it is important for your son to keep up with leisure activities over this period, it is within reason. Reduce over stimulating activities such as parties. If he feels his mind constantly wandering, he should take a break whilst studying to refocus.

  • Prepare for each session
    Make sure your son has everything he needs for each study session as this helps him feel more confident and organised.

  • Final review
    Studying within 24 hours of the exam on that subject helps your son retain the information, as it is committing it to short-term memory.

  • Keep to the plan
    Wherever possible, try to help your son keep to the plan. If the plan needs to shift, sit down and reassess the plan together.

Helping your son take these intentional steps to plan for exams will go a long way in developing this integral life skill. At Christ Church Grammar School, our focus is building good men for the future. To discover more helpful tips and insights on raising boys, subscribe to our enewsletter.

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