• Pridie Tiernan

Have you got all your eggs in the basket? Read on for tips and links to help you support your teenag

Updated: Jun 19


It's Easter! Cue chocolate treats and Spring smiles. Unless, that is, you're sixteen and about to sit your GCSE exams. Easter means revision and lots of it.

By now, the school revision schedule will have swung fully into action and teachers will have been revisiting topics studied a year - feels like a lifetime - ago. Chances are, they will have put together packs of resources for students to work on over the holiday, pointed out pages to visit online and talked to students about individual learning styles and effective revision methods that match those.

Problem is, it's hard to communicate all of this to parents at home. A variety of online home-learning systems, school website updates, good old-fashioned letters citing revision guides and possibly (if time allows) even a handful of workshops, might have gone some way to helping parents feel a little more empowered when it comes to actively supporting revision at home - but there it most probably ends.

Exam board websites are a nightmare to navigate, revision guides and websites are archived and updated and, quite frankly, the whole thing can leave you feeling entirely at sea and unable to offer the practical support you want to at this scary and stressful time. So, we thought it might be helpful to put together some of the material, websites and practical revision tips we provide for our tutored students and their parents during our tutorials.

Below, you will find a series of tips and links to help you support your child in the run up to the GCSE Language and Literature exams this year. We also strongly recommend you supplement each tip and link with the largest chocolate treat you can get your hands on - because, after all, it is Easter ;)

Tip 1: Find out what exam board your child is studying, then look at some papers and exemplars - it is likely to be AQA, Eduqas, OCR, or Edexcel. You will probably need to email their teacher. It might be mentioned on the website, on the initial handout material school provided about the GCSE course or - like every good detective - you can probably find it if you rifle through your child's school bag and find their poetry anthology (note - this will confirm their Literature exam board only but schools usually follow the same exam board for both Language and Literature. ) Once you've done this, you can jump onto the right website and find the specification (the thing that tells teachers all about the course and exams) and MOST IMPORTANTLY the specimen/past papers, mark schemes and (holy grail) exemplars! It can take a bit of fiddling about and cunning navigation of the website to find the exemplar material in particular, but these things show you what the exam board would like to see in a response so they are important! You now know exactly what they are working towards - in our words 'you no know thine enemy' and can help set about planning an effective attack!

Here's some quick links to cut out the faff when it comes to finding helpful materials for the 2018 exams:

AQA

ENGLISH LANGUAGE look at the ASSESS materials

ENGLISH LITERATURE look at the ASSESS materials

EXEMPLAR COMMENTARY

Eduqas

ENGLISH LANGUAGE

And then look under DIGITAL RESOURCES on the home page to download the exemplar files

ENGLISH LITERATURE

And then look under DIGITAL RESOURCES on the home page to download the exemplar files

Edexcel

ENGLISH LANGUAGE

And then look under TEACHING AND LEARNING MATERIAL on the COURSE MATERIALS page, scroll down to find and download exemplar files

ENGLISH LITERATURE

And then look under TEACHING AND LEARNING MATERIAL on the COURSE MATERIALS page,scroll down to find and download exemplar files

OCR

ENGLISH LANGUAGE

ENGLISH LITERATURE

Tip 2: Invest in some colourful, quirky revision guides - my students love these. They brighten up the whole revision process and take away the stress of 'what to do when I sit down to revise'! NB: Make sure you buy right one for your child's exam board!

AQA

Our favourite revision guide and workbook

Visit a bookshop and browse the CPG, York Notes, and Letts guides for the literature texts they are studying

Eduqas

Our favourite revision guide and workbook

Visit a bookshop and browse the CPG, York Notes, and Letts guides for the literature texts they are studying

Edexcel

The revision guide and workbook we use

Visit a bookshop and browse the CPG, York Notes, and Letts guides for the literature texts they are studying

OCR

We can't currently find a creative and quirky revision guide so watch this space!

Visit a bookshop and browse the CPG, York Notes, and Letts guides for the literature texts they are studying

Tip 3: Support them in planning their answer - it doesn't matter how you choose to do this, be it mindmap, chart, random scribbles all over the question paper. Emphasising the importance of planning is providing crucial revision support in itself. Encourage them to have a go at answering the question - maybe look through the mark scheme's 'indicative content' (bullet points mentioning what they would be looking for) and/or the exemplars beforehand.

Tip 4: Take shameless advantage of revision websites like Bitesize and Sparknotes

These websites are just brilliant for revision of all the literature texts, but they also have some great tips on reading comprehension and persuasive technique that features in the language papers.

Bitesize

Sparknotes

Tip 5: Try out our favourite method of remembering quotes - the 'Mind Palace' method

Our students love this and it's so simple - it basically involves mapping out the floor plan of your house and attaching quotes to particular objects/rooms that have some sort of association with the character/event/words mentioned e.g. a student of ours recently remembered 'We are one body' from Inspector Calls by attaching the quote to the place where a family portrait hangs in the hallway, and 'Out damned spot' to the downstairs toilet (which is apparently hard to clean ;))

As teachers, we tend to forget that parents are working hard at home to also help students revise for exams. Busy schedules and pressure on both sides makes it difficult to communicate as effectively as we would want with the other half of the 'team'! I hope that these tips and links go some way to helping parents feel empowered once again in the process of supporting their child to revise this year. At the end of the day, the most powerful thing you can do is be confident in your own ability to support and advise your child on how they are doing. You too can look at a question and understand it, you too can follow a mark scheme and work out what kind of response you should write and you too can recognise a strong exemplar against a weaker one. So sit down and support with confidence - because all the material you need is here!

Happy revision!

#englishliterature #englishlanguage #GCSE #revision #examboard #OCR #Edexcel #AQA #eduqas #teenager

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