STOP! Is your teen learning to revise before having these foundational study skills in place?

Year after year I see families coming to us for help with revision quite late into year 11 or year 13. The trouble is, learning to revise effectively without having your foundational study skills in place is like building a house without foundations: everything is likely to topple over at the first sign of trouble.

In this article you'll find out:

    • What the foundational study skills are that you need in place before learning to revise
    • Why these foundational study skills support your revision
    • How to get these foundational study skills in place

What are the foundational study skills that all students need before learning to revise?

There are five foundational study skills that students need before they learn to revise.

1. Organisation

Many students are fundamentally let down in their studies by their organisational skills. Because they don't write their homework down, or check their planners regularly they don't do homework, or it's done in a rush at the last minute. Or, because they don't have an effective filing system in place they lose crucial pages of notes.

Why organisation supports your revision

The other day I was on a coaching call with students in The Extraordinaries Club and there was one girl who, before she joined the club, had made pages and pages of revision notes but then lost them. She'd had to make them all over again.

Basic organisational skills prevent this kind of thing from happening.

Another example of how organisation supports revision is having all your class notes complete and ready when you want to make revision resources. This is only possible if you've:

  • Met your deadlines
  • Done good quality work along the way
  • Filed all your work so it's there when you need it

2. Motivation

It's very difficult to revise for an exam if you don't know why you're doing. In order to be fully invested in your revision you need to make each subject and grade personal to you by understanding what it means to you. Basically, you need to know what your motivation is and how these exams fit into this goal.

Students need to get clear on their personal motivation to have any real dedication to their studies or revision.

Why motivation supports revision

When I was studying for my own GCSEs and A-Levels I knew my ultimate goal was to get the grades to get into Cambridge. There were so many times when I could have said I couldn't be bothered and given up, but this clear goal kept me going even when the going got tough.

I've seen plenty of other goals from students e.g.

  • Get into a particular sixth form
  • Study medicine
  • Study criminology at Leicester University

And many, many more. The students with the clearest goal are the ones who have the greatest strength of purpose when the going gets tough.

3. Time management

Many teenagers, particularly those in years 10 and 11, admit to me that they're very bad at time management. It's no surprise, really, when they've always had someone else to manage their time for them and no majorly important demands on their time.

That's one of the reasons (combined with low motivation and poor organisational skills, see above) that many students really struggle when they have more things to do in their studies that are more important.

Students need to learn how to manage their time well before they get into the final stages of revision.

Why time management supports revision

The time management tools I teach in The Extraordinaries Club help students to give structure to their time, into which they can fit revision. They can hang their homework tasks and revision tasks around this structure to make sure they're concentrating on the right things at the right times in their courses, and they can transition from an emphasis on homework to an emphasis on revision as their courses progress.

Students find this very helpful as they're often confused about how to fit in revision and homework.

4. Mindset

Some students don't have a resilient, growth mindset. Sometimes this is because they've received the message over and over again that their abilities are limited e.g. they're a B grade student, or a bottom set student. They might have experienced failure over and over again. Or, they might have been told how bright and intelligent they are all their lives and don't know how to cope when they can no longer get by simply on their intelligence.

Why a good mindset supports revision

Everyone needs to have some insight into what their dominant mindset is, so that when their mindset lets them down they can challenge it, work on it and change it. It's much harder to develop this mindset muscle in the demanding build up to final GCSE or A-Level exams than it is in the earlier part of their courses.

5. Habits

I've written many times before about the importance of consistency in achieving amazing GCSE and A-Level results. Consistency is built around habits, and there are certain good study habits that really support success, and bad study habits that it's a good idea to eliminate.

Why good study habits support revision

Again, the sooner you work on introducing good study habits and removing bad study habits the better. They will take the stress out of the final build up to exams (because you've done some of the work along the way) and result in a more balanced and healthy approach to that final revision and exam season itself.

How to get these foundational study skills in place

In The Extraordinaries Club, these foundational study skills are the first thing we teach to students before they move on to learning and improving their revision skills. If they don't have these foundational skills in place it's much easier for students to give up, due to lack of motivation or a shaky mindset, when they get a poor mark on a revision past paper. However, if they understand about strong mindsets they'll understand that this is a learning opportunity and they can only get better from here.

If your child needs to build their study skills foundation, join us in The Extraordinaries Club and we'll show you how.

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