This post was originally published on April 17th 2019 and updated on March 23rd 2020.

Anna and Lucy are a mother and daughter who are sharing their experiences of online distance learning and home education. In the seventh edition of ‘A home educator’s journey’ Anna discusses Lucy’s revision for her upcoming exams, and explains the importance of maintaining a ‘work-life balance’ for Lucy at home.  

Revision at home

This is our second year of preparing for GCSEs at home. While we feel more confident having done it once before there are still nerves around as we head towards the final push to get the grades Lucy is capable of achieving. Having accepted a place at sixth form there is now also an external pressure to accomplish certain grades.

Planning has been key throughout the whole process. When we started the courses last year we planned to finish the courses at the end of February. By completing the courses this early it gave us a bit of leeway with timing, if over the year, we had gone off schedule for any reason. We are aware that sometimes topics take longer than anticipated or illness happens particularly in the winter months. It also gave us plenty of time left before the exams to revise effectively. We found that this helped to reduce the pressure as Lucy felt there was plenty of time to cover the material in the revision process.

Planning for exams

When planning revision we looked at the number of weeks we had before each exam and then the number of topics that needed to be covered. Lucy ranked the topics in how confident she felt with the material. She then decided to start with the areas that she felt less comfortable with. We also planned in the resources we have to support revision and thought about other strategies that could help. Mind mapping is a useful skill to know especially when there is a lot of material to remember. We made sure to stock up on coloured pens! There is a lot of material to get through and we found that re-reading notes is not always helpful. We made sure to build in time for Lucy to discuss what she had been revising as we know that talking about the material helps to store it in the memory.

Past papers and revision tutorials

Last year we found that past papers were an absolutely key part to the revision process. We used them in two ways. Firstly, as an exam style exercise to help get used to recalling information and writing at speed. The other way we used them was to go through the questions together and discuss possible answers. We then referred to the mark scheme and looked at how we could improve our answers. Both strategies were useful and gave a lot of experience of the way questions could be worded. It also helped to show which topic areas needed more revision as Lucy was less confident in her answers. We could then look at those topic areas again. There is the option with NEC to have past papers marked and revision tutorials which may be something that we take up as we get nearer to the exams.

Revision and relaxation balance

While we want Lucy to have the best chance of getting the grades she is capable of achieving we also want to manage the pressure she is under. It is vital that she still has time for her interests so we encourage her to carry on with her dance classes and seeing her friends. We also build in breaks for her during the day so she is not stuck at a desk for too long – even going out for a walk can help lift the spirits. We have a few small treats planned in for her during the process such as cinema trips and visits to the theatre so she can relax and enjoy herself. As a family we talk a lot about the future and how it is not set in stone. Careers can change over time and the way you get to where you want to be in life doesn’t always follow a set course. We also emphasise that being happy and content in your life is more important than anything else. We want Lucy to feel that her GCSEs are just part of her life not the whole of it.  Lucy does set herself very high standards but we hope that by providing a supportive family unit around her it does alleviate some of the pressure she feels.

If you, or someone you know is revising for their exams, our ebook, How to Succeed in Exams and Assessments, is an excellent asset that can help learners prepare for any upcoming assessments. Offering guidance and useful ways to approach the process, the ebook is designed to help students being assessed, whatever their subject and at whatever level they are being assessed. Available to download from our resources webstore.

For further information on additional services we provide, including past papers and revision tutorials click here.

Read the previous blogs in the series “Selecting our course provider“, “Getting started”, “Home educating through GCSEs”, “Booking exams”, “Studying GCSE Sociology” (plus “Studying GCSE Sociology – Tutor response”), and Using learn@nec and Tutor Support.

Find out more about home schooling with NEC here.

Free learning resources

As part of our commitment to those affected by the impact of the coronavirus, and in an effort to help support parents, teachers and students during this difficult time, we are making the learning materials available from our Resources Webstore free to download to the public using the discount code NECFREERESOURCES.

Further information on how to access the resources is provided in the following PDF document:

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