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5 Ways To Help Your Teen Get Fantastic Exam Results

Study Gurus

This week we are excited to have a guest blog authored by Clare McIlwraith and Chris Whittington, a.k.a The Study Gurus. This dynamic duo specializes in teaching students how to study effectively.  Their aim is to show parents how they can help their teens reach their academic potential at high school. They’re sharing their years of studying and tutoring experience at www.thestudygurus.com.

Do you remember helping your child learn their times tables and the alphabet like it was yesterday?

It was obvious what you could do to help them, and interfering with their homework was never an issue.

And now here they are -- grown up and embarking on their high school exams.

For some of you it might be 20-30 odd years since you touched a math book and almost as many since you sat any kind of exam. So how on earth are you supposed them now?!

You don't actually need to understand Meiosis or be able to differentiate a quadratic equation to help your teen get the best grades possible in their exams.

You can become an integral part of their success by doing things they can't (or wouldn't) do on their own.

1. Help them make a study timetable

A study timetables only needs to be very simple, yet the benefits of having one are massive:

  • A timetable = more study done. Your teen is much more likely to do the amount of study they need to if it's planned in advance and written down. A timetable achieves both these things immediately.
  • It will ensure your teen studies everything they need to in time for each exam.
  • By helping your teen make a study timetable, you're helping them get organized, which will help keep their stress levels down, meaning everybody else benefits too.

2. Use incentives when needed

Many teenagers need a good kick up the bum during exam time. If this is your teen we recommend implementing a few simple incentives to help give them the boost they need.

But, they need to be the right kind of incentives...

Research shows that incentives based on a child's inputs are far more effective than those based on their outputs. This means you should base your incentives on the number of hours of study done, rather than what grades your teen ends up getting.

3. Show them fantastic websites.

The web harbors many amazing free resources specifically for studying for high school exams -- of any schooling system. And let's be honest, you'll be much more likely to look for them than your teen!

To get you started here are a few of our personal favorites:

  • Khan Academy: This site has thousands of free videos covering everything from math to chemistry to finance at a level that's perfect for high school students. It also has a ‘Practice' section that acts as a personal math tutor. All free!
  • GCSE Bitesize: Based on the British curriculum, but a fantastic website bursting with resources for any high school student anywhere.
  • YouTube: Yes, it is one of the best tools for procrastinating... but if your teen can resist their browsing urges, YouTube probably has at least 10 videos explaining any topic they could ever be confused about.

4. Past exam papers

We credit a lot of our own exam success to studying from past exams.

They're a wonderful study tool because:

  • The questions and format of the exams this year will probably be very similar to past years.
  • They'll give your teen the best idea of what to expect -- you want to avoid nasty surprises!
  • Going over past exams will very quickly show your teen what they need to brush up on.

5. Test them

A great tool for studying is getting someone to ask you questions and test your knowledge.

You may not know what protein synthesis is but that doesn't mean you can't help your teen revise. As long as you can read, you can ask questions from their study notes and/or help them make and practice with flash cards.

Your teen may not need you to help them do their homework anymore, but that doesn't mean that you have to be a spectator of their success from now on.

We hope that the tips we've outlined here help you help your teen reach the level of academic achievement you know they're capable of. It'll be YOU they thank first at their high school graduation.

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#5 Chris | The Study Gurus 2011-05-25 01:02
Hi Ellen - we totally agree with your comment! Learning is all about making as many connections as possible in as many different ways. And, of course, the old saying goes that 'the best way to learn is to teach!'

Even just hunting through their books for information that they know is there will help their brain file the information into the correct place.
#4 Chris | The Study Gurus 2011-05-25 00:57
Sorry Carol - the link to the article on Subject Maps is https://www.thestudygurus.com/school-stuff/subject-maps-your-childs-studying-roadmap/
#3 Chris | The Study Gurus 2011-05-25 00:56
Hi Carol,

I think there's a few things you could try to fix the issue of not having a study guide.

First, your kids should be able to piece a study guide together from what they've been doing in class. If they are taking notes, or working through workbooks, they should have a paper-trail of what they've covered. And (despite what many kids think) teachers don't usually put things in tests and exams that they haven't covered in class.

I suggest that your children make what we call a Subject Map as they go through the year. Here is an article about what Subject Maps are and how to make them.

I'm not sure what schooling system your kids are following, but most states (and countries) have a curriculum that teachers should follow through the year. As such, there should be books that lay out the specific content that your child should know. A quick trip to a book store should help you with this. If not, then a Google search should definitely find something.

Failing both those things - if your kids don't want to ask their teachers for help, there's nothing stopping you doing it for them! A quick email to a teacher asking for these study guides in advance might solve all your problems!

Please let me know how you get on! Chris
#2 Ellen Bremen 2011-05-23 13:48
Love this advice! I'm going to add one: Have your kids tell you what they are working on! Let them hunt through their books or notes as they are telling you! May sound simple, but we make brain-based connections when we are synthesizing and "immersing" ourselves in material: reading about it, writing about it, talking about it. Students make a deeper brain-based--i. e. retention--conn ection when, on their own volition, they put the information in their own words, explain it to us, and even have to go hunting around to find it. Ellen Bremen, M.A. @chattyprof https://chattyprof.blogspot.com
#1 Carol 2011-05-22 20:04
This is helpful but my kids teachers don't give them a study guide until right before the test so they say they can't start before then. I tried to get them to ask their teachers to give them soon but they don't want to do that. Any suggestions?

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