Easter holidays and exam readiness
By Elizabeth Holtom
22 Mar
Your starting point for exam readiness is always the reality of your child’s current attitude to learning. The Easter holidays present a great opportunity to consolidate or develop some of the key skills for effective learning.

Which of the following descriptions matches your child best?

Smart learners have a growing collection of mind maps, flashcards, flowcharts and/or question-and-answer index cards. They make effective use of the tips in Study Skills 13+.
Demotivated students have disorganised notes and will rely on last-minute cramming to help them get by.


smile-1.png feel increasingly motivated as the exam season approaches and are ready to take on new challenges

smile-2.png feel increasingly anxious as the exam season approaches and are overwhelmed by the thought of the challenges ahead.

How are they doing with the 3Rs of learning?

Responsibility: These students take responsibility for their actions. They understand that their choices on when, what, how long and how to revise are important. They make informed choices about how to work in an effective, brain-friendly way.

Resourcefulness: These students are prepared to take risks, accept challenges and try new approaches. They are open to trying out a range of strategies in a creative and personalised way.

Resilience: These students are able to deal with frustrations and setbacks. They learn from their mistakes and value constructive feedback. They use positive self-talk.

Here are some tips to help all students, whatever their learning profile ...

Good news for demotivated students
Here is the good news – it is never too late to make a change and start creating new learning habits. With exams looming, now is the perfect time for these students to take responsibility for their learning. They could choose up to three specific, achievable targets to implement immediately. Here are a few suggestions ...

Responsible learners like to:
  • create a tidy workspace in their bedroom
  • remove any distractions, especially electronic ones
  • pin a ‘To Do’ notice on their door with revision times set out, one day at a time
  • put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ notice on their door for study time
  • pin up a subject checklist’ by their workspace and tick every time they revise a particular subject. Download a free subject checklist here.

Resourceful learners like to:
  • work with music playing in the background because they know it helps with their studying – see Study Skills 13+ for tips.
  • arrange a revision session with a friend to find out whether they work better this way rather than on their own.
Resilient learners like to:

set themselves realistic goals based on feedback from their teachers. Download a free goal template here.

Encouragement for the in-betweeners

smile-1.png Here are some of the key areas for in-betweeners to consider, especially now they are becoming increasingly motivated.

Responsible learners tackle important and urgent tasks first
  • Holiday work: They have all the files/books, and so on, that they need. They know when it has to be handed in. They use a year planner to keep on track. Download here.
  • Practice papers – especially for subjects they are having time management problems with: They prioritise completing papers that are part of their holiday work. They know when to hand them in. They make sure they are absolutely clear about what each exam involves.
  • Revision topics for Common Entrance examinations: They make sure they have all the files/books, and so on, that they need.

Resourceful learners may, if they have time:
  • choose a topic/topics for mind mapping; index cards; box and bubble charts
  • choose vocabulary topics or maths/science formulae for making sets of flashcards or they may set up their cards on an app like Quizlet or Brainscape.
The Easter holidays are an excellent time to build up their learning library as there are fewer potential distractions compared with the Christmas holidays.

smile-2.png These students may well have a negative inner voice telling them they are no good, that any effort is pointless. Developing resilience is likely to be a priority for them. Here are some specific targets to help them.

Responsible learners like to:
  • use a weekly planner, because a clear schedule reassures them. Download a free planner here.
  • have a free day to look forward to each week without feeling guilty – they mark this on their planner.

Resourceful learners build their resilience
  • They catch themselves when they say negative things. They stop, reflect and tweak their negative self-talk into something positive. For example, they turn ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’t, yet’; ‘There’s no way’ into ‘I’ll find a way’; ‘I don’t know how’ into ‘I don’t know how to do this so I will need some help’.
  • They have a chat with a teacher, friend or relative whose opinion they value and who can reassure them and help them with their self-image.
  • They make a habit of using the ‘Positive thinking’ exercise used in Study Skills 13+. They use this exercise at home before setting off for school on an examination day.
  • They make a habit of using the ‘How to keep calm’ exercise shown in Study Skills 13+They use this exercise at school before tests and examinations.
  • They do something physical every day. This is a great way to boost the immune system and lower stress.

Resilience for all learners
Resilient learners know that the effort they put in will really pay off and that they will have plenty of time for fun after the exams.

Author of this blog article, Elizabeth Holtom, has written a new study skills resources developed specifically for children preparing for 13+ entrance exams and the transition into senior school.
Order your copy here.


Tags: 13+, Elizabeth Holtom, Revision, Study Skills

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