GCSE revision: Study tips for every child sitting their GCSEs

Help your kids with their GCSE revision using these top 10 GCSE revision tips that every parent should know like using memory techniques and using past GCSE papers.

GCSE revision
(Image credit: Garo/Phanie/Rex Features)

Help your kids with their GCSE revision using these top 11 GCSE revision tips that every parent should know, including memory techniques and using past GCSE papers.

Helping your kids with GCSE revision can be a scary thought. Especially if school wasn't your thing!

It is your teenager, however, that has to go through the pain of sitting the actual exams. Although you want to do everything you can for them, it's a frustrating reality that only they alone can get that information into their head in time for exam day.

What you can do, however, is assure them that they're not totally on their own - as we have put together a list of revision tips to help you guide them through the revision process!

Read more: Mum argues parents shouldn't boast about their children's GCSE results on social media (opens in new tab)

With such a broad range of subjects to study for, organising how to fit in time for everything from science to English revision can be daunting for your teenager.

It can be hard for kids to determine how to tailor their revision to each different subject, and your teenager might not even be aware yet of what kind of learner they are - whether they be a kinetic, visual, or auditory learner.

GCSE revision

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These GSCE revision tips will help your child tap into their learning potential, and engage with their subjects in a way that will help them understand and be able to recall key facts for their exams.

These GCSE revision tips also offer a really effective way for your kid to better manage their time and put together a study schedule that works best for them, if they usually have a difficult time with organisation.

Read more: A parent's guide to GCSE results and GCSE results day (opens in new tab)

The run-up to GCSE exams can be a stressful time for both teenagers and parents alike, but with these revision tips we promise to make studying a much more manageable and, dare we say it, enjoyable experience for your child.

Here are our top 11 tips to help your child revise for their GCSEs and ease the stress of exam revision so they can achieve their full potential.

1. Post-it notes and mind maps

GCSE revision

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First things first, buy them a pack of Post-it notes.

Post-it notes dotted around the house with facts written on them are a great revision tool. They're great for 'visual learners' and can be stuck on just about anything from the fridge to the bathroom mirror.

Mind mapping is also useful to brainstorm information and help your teen remember the facts. Using bold colouring pens and big sheets of paper, mind mapping can help to break down complicated topics and pinpoint keywords. Start with a topic e.g. maths, draw branches from the word and add its key words e.g. percentages and key facts around it creating a web effect.

2. Revision books

GCSE revision

Revision books are available for each subject and break down each topic into bite-sized chunks and diagrams to make it easier for your teen to understand. They also have question and answer sections that you can go through with them, so it's worth investing in a good revision book for any subject your child finds hard.

When you choose a GCSE revision book, go for a new edition and one that's targeted to the exam board and grade they're working towards.

CGP and Letts revision books are the most-popular choices and can be bought from WHSmith (opens in new tab) and Amazon (opens in new tab), but if in doubt ask their teacher which books they would recommend.

3. Use memory techniques like rhyming words

GCSE revision

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We all know and love the alphabet song, which we sing to help us remember the letters of the alphabet. Well this is a perfect example of mnemonics, a revision technique that could help your teens remember difficult words, dates or names.

Word association and making up rhymes is a really useful memory tool for teens who find it hard to take in written words.

4. Use past papers for practice

GCSE revision

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Past papers from previous exams are really useful revision tools.

They can help your child to get a feel for the questions that could be asked, how they could answer them and organise their time during the exam. They could also use the past papers as a practice exams under timed conditions.

Ask their teacher for past papers or download them for free from exam board websites like aqa.org.uk (opens in new tab), OCR.org.uk (opens in new tab) and Edexcel.com (opens in new tab).

5. In the zone

GCSE revision

Having their own space to revise in the house is so important.

Make sure you create a dedicated area in the house that your teen can revise in without any distractions. If they share a bedroom with a younger sibling, see if you can time revision sessions when the other one is out of the house.

6. Have a break

GCSE revision

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One of the most important things to do while revising is have breaks. Whether they're bite-sized or half-day breaks, they must be taken for your teen's brain to rest.

Breaks are a great reward system as well. Every topic they revise give them a short break. If they want to pop out for the afternoon with friends, make sure they do some revision in the morning as they probably won't want to do any when they come home.

GCSE revision tips study buddy

GCSE revision

Some teens may find it easier to work with their friends. This can be a good way of revising as they can they'll be able to their share notes and knowledge with each other and ask each other questions from revision books.

Make sure their study buddy doesn't end up being a distraction though. Get them to teach you what they've been revising at the end of their study session, so you can see what they've been up to, while they get to go over their notes again.

8. Water and power snacks

GCSE revision

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Drinking water during revision sessions can help to ease the flow of information, as the brain works better when hydrated.

Power snacks are also important to keep both concentration and energy levels high. Some good power snacks include bananas, nuts and porridge.

9. The importance of sleep

GCSE revision

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One of the key ways to help concentration levels during revision is making sure they get the right amount of sleep, especially before an exam. Limit how long they revise for in the evenings and decide on a cut-off time so they don’t overwork themselves.

Revising can be a stressful time for your teen and if they’re finding it difficult to sleep due to stress, make sure you have a quiet word and see if you can help in any way.

10. Revision timetable

GCSE revision

A timetable is a great way to keep on top of revision and map out what needs to be done and how long your teen has to do it in.

Make sure they have a plan of action before they begin revising and work out exactly what topics they need to revise by looking at their exam specification (syllabus), which they can get hold of from their teacher - there's no point revising a topic that won't be in the exam.

Then sit down and design a revision timetable together so you know how much they have to do. Don't forget to add in their social breaks to lighten the load!

11. Break it down

exam stress

Psychologist Niels Eek from mental health app Remente says it's best to break tasks down into small and manageable components, instead of having one long to-do list.

For example, instead of saying ‘complete assignment’, try to break this down into smaller elements that you can allocate a set amount of time to, before ticking it off your list. This will help to concentrate the mind on the task at hand and prevent procrastination, which only leads to more stress and anxiety.

Where to next

- Top 10 tips on how to deal with stress

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