Helping your teenager with exams and revision


Exam time tests us parents every bit as much as it tests our offspring. The first hurdle is study leave. In the old days, you'll remember, your child used to get up in the morning, (possibly) have breakfast, and then leave for school.

Now, though, s/he gets up at around 10am and lounges around revises at home. Often, friends come to watch TV too revise with him/her.

The upshot is that your house is full of teenagers all day long. They eat the entire time, they have about 15 showers a day (it's always very hot and stuffy at exam time), they never pick up their towels and they never clear up in the kitchen. So here's our advice on helping your teenager with their revision and exams.

"Here's what you can do: provide materials such as files, wallets, sticky labels and cards for revision; help them to plan a timetable well ahead of the exams; encourage them to have breaks as they need them, make sure there's a quiet space and healthy meals, and offer to go over some topics if they wish - eg modern language vocabulary for 10 minutes a day. And don't sweat the small stuff - if they loses a vital protractor, just let them buy a new one and don't fuss!" sandripples 

Because they are officially 'revising', you have to restrain yourself. Shout and scream at them, and they'll shout and scream at you – only louder and more hysterically. They are, you see, stressed and up against it. 

Just chill out, mum

Hmmm, easier said than done. But the answer is definitely to be as stress-free as possible yourself. Exam-taking teenagers are so stressed that the tiniest hint of stressiness from you will send them into a total tail-spin.

"One thing we found very useful was to download all the available past papers from the exam board websites for my son and get him to do them under timed conditions - that way he was practising the actual stuff that was likely to come up and could get his time management sorted." Macforme

So the best thing you can do is to look after yourself extra-well, so you in turn can look after your exam-taking child. Give yourself little treats, and then give him or her little treats, too. If you're getting on well, arrange to have a cup of tea during a revision-break, or head out for a pizza or a coffee.

The DfE's Exam Results Helpline offers free independent advice, plus guidance and support via their Facebook page and on Twitter

"Both of my daughters are conscientious, and I have never felt the need to pin them down to revision schedules - they both make their own. I actually think it's really, really important to remind them, especially if they are very stressed, that all they need to do is their best, and that whatever the results are you are proud of them. Schools put so much pressure on the children, and sometimes being reminded that they won't be valued by the number of A*s they get, is a good idea." Macforme  

"Bad exam results are not the end of the world. I mean, you can't be with your son every minute of the day to make sure he does his stuff. He'll be an adult soon and he has to learn to take responsibilities for his own actions. When he cocks up, then he learns." Rhubarb

Mumsnet revision tips

  • Buy 'revision food' – ask your kids what they want, and make sure there's plenty of it.
  • Don't keep asking them to get down to revision unless you're completely certain it's not what they've just been doing.
  • Accept that revising in 2010 might not look like revising did in the 1970s or 80s when you were doing it. OK, so they're on Facebook again – but maybe they're asking their friends for help with their work.
  • Remind them to have breaks. It's better to take short breaks of something like 10 minutes once an hour, than to plough on for hours and hours without a change of scene then stopping for a long time. 
  • Try to encourage them to have an 'overview' of how their revision is going. Ask them what they feel most confident about, and what they're worried they don't know enough about. This will help them determine their own priorities.


Last updated: about 3 years ago