How much should you revise in the Christmas holidays?

“How much should you revise…?” is one of the most frequent questions I get asked. Today, I'm going to talk about how much you should revise in the Christmas holidays because no-one wants mock exams in January ruining the Christmas holidays.

How much should you revise in the Christmas holidays?

The number of hours per day you should spend revising in the Christmas holidays doesn't have a clear cut answer. It depends on lots of different factors. I know this is rather unsatisfactory answer – but let me explain.

The factors that determine how much a student should revise

There are many different factors that determine how much you should revise in the Christmas holidays. Here are the main ones.

Has your child got mocks in January, or have they done them in November or December?

If you've got mocks in January, you'll want to be putting your best effort into Christmas holiday revision so that you do the best you possibly can when you take your mocks in January.

However, if you've had mocks in November or December you may want to keep the revision ticking over a quiet way, but your priority should be having your last proper rest before your exams in the summer. People with mocks in January should have taken October half-term as rest time when you were working hard for your mocks.

How motivated is your child?

More motivated students are going to find it easier to sustain large amounts of revision every day over the Christmas holidays. It's pointless trying to force someone with low motivation to do 6-8 hours of revision every day because it's just not going to happen – they'll sit at their desk staring into the distance, checking YouTube out and feeling resentful.

This is not a recipe for success.

Has your child got a learning difference?

Students with learning differences like dyslexia, particularly those who find learning much slower and harder to access, will find revision very tiring. It's impossible to learn effectively when you're tired. For these students, it's about finding a revision rhythm that is sustainable: working out how long they can concentrate for before needing a revision break and how many focused revision sessions they can do in a day if they're going to keep it up over the long term.

How much revision you've got to do

If your child has been revising solidly all through the autumn term and feels very confident about their knowledge using the red, amber, green system I share on my Revision Kickstarter workshops then they can afford to take more time off to enjoy themselves over the Christmas holiday.

However, if they've barely started their revision they are going to need to be a lot more focused during the festive season.

How much they need a break

The autumn term is long and tiring and most of us reach the Christmas holidays feeling exhausted and in desperate need of a break.

The priority in the holidays should always be going back to school feeling refreshed. This is particularly true in an exam year because year 11 and year 13 are long old slogs and you need to look after yourself so that you don't burn out.

Health issues

Some students have physical or mental health issues that need to come top of their priority lists. If your child is suffering, please don't hesitate to get help through your doctor or through other agencies, such as charities, that might be able to help.

Sustainability: the most important factor you need to consider

All of the things I've talked about already really boil down to the concept of sustainability: how reasonable it is to expect your child to work at a certain rate, and continue working at that rate. This is for the sake of their mental and physical health as well as their exam results.

If you place too much pressure on a young person to work beyond the level their intrinsic motivation supports they will either suffer or rebel. However, consistency is important in terms of revision.

So, when working out how much a student should revise every day in the Christmas holidays choose an amount of time that they can sustain day after day after day.

For some students, this might be 8 hours per day, if they're highly motivated. For other students it might just be 1-2 hours per day if they find learning really hard work and tiring.

As a family, you need to come up with a number that's going to work. And, it might need to be tested and reviewed over time.

How much revision you should do in a day

In my article, How much revision you should do in a day, I suggested that a neurotypical student who is ‘normal' in most respects (whatever that means) should be aiming to do 4-6 hours revision per day, if they're aiming for level 7s.

They should also be planning in 4-5 whole days off over a two-week Christmas holiday.

If they're aiming for higher grades, they should be looking to do up to 8 hours per day.

Less than 4-6 hours per day they're probably going to be getting grade 6s and below.

However, this also depends on the quality of the revision techniques they're using. All students should be using Revision Power Hours, but I talk in depth about how to make revision as effective as possible in the Plan Your Revision and Optimise Your Revision Techniques modules in The Extraordinaries Club.

How much should you revise in the Christmas holidays?

So, while I know you want me to give you a precise number of hours your teen should be revising for every day in the holidays, so that you can says, “Lucy Parsons says….” I can't do that for you.

Instead, you need to work out what is sustainable for your child through a process of testing and open communication with them.

If you need more support with this, check out The Extraordinaries Club or our 1:1 academic coaching options.

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