Duke of York's Royal Military School

Encouraging Teens To Revise During School Holidays

The former headmaster of Harrow School and chairman of the Independent Schools Council Barnaby Lenon has been in the news recently; he says teenagers studying for summer GCSEs and A Levels should revise for seven hours per day in the Easter break if they want to achieve the best grades. He stated that the best exam results don’t necessarily go to those with the most ability, but rather to those who revise the most over the Easter holidays.

Mr Lenon says that in order to do well, teenagers should revise at least three times before the exam: once over Easter, once during the summer term and again a day or so before the exam. It’s the repetition of coming back to your notes that helps secure that information in the long term memory.

Most teenagers will not be thrilled at the idea of spending their Easter holidays revising though; so how do we as parents get them to sit down and revise?

Here are some pointers:

  • Join in. Rather than stand and dictate that your child must sit at their desk for a set number of hours per day, sit down with them and help with the revision. Test them on their notes; ask questions; make suggestions.
  • Strike a deal. Realistically, it will be hard to get your teen to sit and revise for the 100 hours suggested by Mr Lenon over the Easter break, but perhaps you could agree to match every hour of study with an hour of activity, or to match a day of revision with a day trip to the destination of their choice.
  • Find novel ways to revise. Could you take a day trip to a place of historical significance and bring the textbooks along? Is there a documentary that’s relevant to their study?
  • Reason with them. Explain that this is but two weeks of their life; once the exams are out of the way they will have the whole summer in which to laze about and do as they please. Perhaps agree to do something special over the summer so that there is something in particular to look forward to.
  • Encourage a little out-of-context thinking. It’s important to learn facts and information, but learning information by heart without true understanding is a pointless exercise. Find ways to spark thoughts and discussion around a topic so that if the exam involves a question they weren’t expecting, they will still be able to answer.
  • Do away with the threats. The standard "if you do badly you won’t get onto the right course/into the right university” or assertions that failing these exams will cause a life of disappointment and failure will help nobody and really only cause stress and tension. Opt instead for encouragement.
  • Provide simple food on demand. In the event that your teen does spend a large chunk of time studying, they will want to take a break and have something substantial to eat. Now is not the time to exercise your parental right to say "you’re big enough to make your own sandwich!”
  • Respect their need for sleep. Teenagers’ sleeping patterns can be infuriating at the best of times, but your teen may find that they are better able to concentrate during the evenings, and then sleep later in the morning. Sleep is an important part of consolidating knowledge, and teenagers do need more sleep than younger children or adults.
Grace Education
Dallington School
Duke of York's Royal Military School
Aysgarth School Banner
Prior's Court School