The power of accountability in getting revision done

Some people just get things done, whether they're asked to or not. Others won't do anything they're asked even if they think it's actually a good idea. Others need accountability to get anything done at all.

If your child needs accountability to get things done they'll probably have struggled with learning at home through the lockdowns of the past year and need external structure, deadlines and feedback to do what is asked of them.

In this article, we're going to:

  • Explore why some people need to be told what to do and have deadlines, while others don't
  • How you can use a child's personality type to adapt your communication and get them to do what you want them to do
  • How to build more accountability in, if it's useful to their personality

Let's go!

The Four Tendencies – personality types that need different levels of accountability

There are some mums in my village who are always arranging to go out on runs together. When I hear them making the arrangements, I always think to myself, “Why do you need to go together?” I've always thought the same about women going off to the toilet together. I would always go on my own.

When I read Gretchen Rubin's book, Better Than Before, I suddenly understood why I was happy to exercise on my own terms and go to the ladies by myself – as well as how I get so much done, without having a boss (I'm my own boss these days).

In her book, Gretchen describes four personality types, she calls them The Four Tendencies, and I'm one of the rarer personality types, an Upholder. This means that I keep promises to both myself and others.

However, most people are either what Rubin calls Obligers or Questioners. The fourth personality type is Rebel. I've written about them before, and how understanding your personality type helps in the formation of better study habits.

This is how Rubin describes the four personality types.


Upholders meet outer expectations and inner expectations. If they tell someone else, or themselves, that they'll do something, they do it. They don't need much, if any accountability because they get things done anyway. They may even find people trying to hold them accountable a bit of an insult – because they'll do it on their own, probably ahead of the deadline.


Questioners meet their inner expectations (what they ask themselves to do) but resist outer expectations – they question what other people ask them to do and will only do what they're asked if a good enough reason is given.


Obligers are people pleasers who meet the expectations that others put on them but find it almost impossible to do things for themselves. These are the people who need to arrange to go for a run with someone else – they'll turn up and run to please the other person, but wouldn't do it simply because they made a promise to themselves.


Rebels resist both inner and outer expectations. If you tell them to do something, they won't do it on principle. As Rubin says in her book:

“One parent explained, “The best way to wrangle the Rebel child is to give the kid the information to make a decision, present the issue as a question that he alone can answer, and let him make a decision and act without telling you. Let him make a decision without an audience. Audiences = expectations. If he thinks you're not watching, he won't need to rebel against your expectations.”

What's your child's tendency?

You may have been able to quickly identify which tendency your child has from my descriptions. Or, you may think they're borderline one or the other.

If you're not sure, or you'd like to be certain, Rubin has a quiz on her website that will tell you.

Click here to take the four tendencies quiz.

Accountability can help students get more done

If you've got an obliger you might find it difficult to get them to do their revision or homework at home – particularly if there's no specific deadline or nobody is going to be checking it.

I recognised this when the first lockdown started a year ago. With students suddenly working at home for most of the day on their own, without any real structure and very little marking or feedback going on, many students were adrift – particularly the obligers (some of the Upholders and Rebels revelled in it though!)

I set up daily accountability calls, at 9 am, for members of The Extraordinaries Club, so that students who didn't have online lessons had something to get up for in the morning, a little bit of contact with the outside world and a session where they were accountable for getting something done – which helped them start the day productively and get them into a routine.

These sessions were really popular and we ran them until the summer holidays to give these students the structure that they needed.

In the autumn, we started the sessions again, but after school to help students get homework and revision tasks done. These continue every week.

The students who attend rave about them. You can see what they say about them in the graphic below. We've got a steady group of regulars who recognise how much they benefit and come along every time.

Accountability Calls in The Extraordinaries Club

Easter Holiday Accountability sessions 2021

We're running 9 am accountability calls again, for members of The Extraordinaries Club, through the Easter holidays – from 29th March to 9th April. There will also be some evening accountability calls during this time – they just won't happen on the bank holidays.

If you feel your child would benefit from the routine and accountability of attending the 9 am accountability call so that they get the day started with a productive revision session, you're welcome to sign-up for The Extraordinaries Club to take part.

Of course, you can set up some kind of accountability in a different way e.g. you check in with them to see that they've done what they set out to do at the end of the day, or there's someone a bit further removed who they won't row with e.g. a respected and liked aunt, uncle, grandparent or family friend.

Use your child's tendency to make them more accountable

Hopefully, you've got more of an insight into your child's character from reading this and you now know if they're an obliger, upholder, rebel or questioner.

You can now use this insight to persuade them to do something (like join the accountability calls!) or make them accountable.

1. Step 1 – get them to do the quiz

Firstly, get your child to do the quiz so they can understand a bit more about their personality type. Hopefully, this will give you a way to talk more in-depth about how you can support them and communicate with them better about things that need to be done.

2. Use their tendency to adapt your communication

Rebel – if you've got a rebel, lay the options out to them and leave them to make a decision.

Obliger – find ways to make them accountable. E.g. you sit with them to do your work while they sit and do their work. You'll have to find your own ways and means!

Questioner – give good reasons why something has to be done, not just ‘because I said so.'

Upholder – I wouldn't worry about them too much – they're probably far too busy doing all the things. You may even need to rein them in a little because the downside to being an Upholder is that you do so much you make yourself ill (I've been there, done that).

What will you do to give your child the accountability they need?

If this blog post has made you realise that your child needs accountability to get their homework and revision done what are you going to do about it? You can try and set up accountability structures in your own family, or you can enroll in The Extraordinaries Club to make use of the accountability calls we provide. Click here to find out more about The Extraordinaries Club and join.

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