Home revision tips for learning in preparation for 13+ Common Entrance exams

Preparing for the 13+ school entrance exams at home? Elizabeth Holtom, author of Galore Park’s Study Skills: Building the study skills needed for 13+ and beyond, has compiled her top home revision tips and practical advice on how to revise for the 13+ remotely.

This is a difficult time for everyone with schools across the globe closed due to COVID-19. Ahead of the 13+ Common Entrance exams next month, here are a few home revision tips on how to achieve a home schooling system that you and your children can work with.

home revision tips
© Galore Park

Daily routine

It’s vital to establish a routine that works for the whole family.

  • Meals: have breakfast at your usual times. Schedule breaks for nutritious snacks and lunches. Eat supper together and discuss the day. Include a selection of the top ten brain foods I set out in Study Skills: Building the study skills needed for 13+ and beyond.
  • Workspace: decide where everyone can work most effectively without distractions. Make sure your children have all the equipment they need and have storage boxes where everything can be kept neatly.
  • Timetable: encourage your children to set up a weekly schedule and decide on a colour code for different activities.
  • Exercise: this may seem harder during lockdown but there are plenty of YouTube options such as P.E. with Joe Wicks. Make the most of any opportunity to get out in the fresh air, keeping to social distancing guidelines. Exercise is a fantastic way to reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Relaxation: it’s vital for wellbeing to have time free from schoolwork. Enjoy more family time in the evenings playing board games, reading or watching a film together.
  • Sleep: keep to normal bedtime routines where possible. Remember to put devices away at least 45 minutes before going to bed.

Screen time

It’s understandable that children are likely to want more screen time. Aim to make media use positive and helpful.

  • Educational websites: schools will no doubt recommend the ones they would like you to use. New BBC Bitesize resources have also been designed for home learning.
  • Study groups: suggest to your children that they create a small study group with friends, using a platform such as Zoom. Each of them can choose one aspect of a topic they will teach their friends – a great way to reinforce knowledge.
  • Social connections: social distancing is isolating. Children are missing their friends and family. Video chats are a great way of staying in touch.
  • Screen rules: limits on screen time are important. Negotiate when and for how long children can play video games online or use social media. 
home revision tips
© Galore Park

How to revise

In Study Skills for 13+ I explain how to use a range of strategies from mind maps to humorous mnemonics.

  • Choice: children should choose the strategy that appeals most and fits with the topic being studied.
  • Multi-sensory: they should use a variety of ways to make revising active and interesting. Complete the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic questionnaire in Study Skills for 13+. They may like mind maps for certain topics, index cards for others and flashcards for vocabulary. 
  • Focused: only have a device available for specific online learning. This should be clearly set out on their daily or weekly schedule.
  • Timed: set a stop time for studies at home. This should encourage focus because children know they can relax and enjoy themselves with a sense of satisfaction after a period of active studying.
  • Reviewing: ‘little and often’ is the golden rule. Worst first: students shouldn’t waste time going over things they already know well. They could download a subject planner and prioritise the subjects/topics they find most difficult. The harder a topic is, the more important it is to allow for overlearning through full use of the reviewing system described in Study Skills for 13+.

Finally, review each day with your children. Talk about what went well and what they or you would like to change for the next day. Your home cannot replicate school so don’t be over ambitious as this will only lead to stress. There is no one perfect routine – just what will work best for you and your family.

Galore Park publishes educational resources for the pre-tests, 11+ and 13+ school entrance exams. Their market-leading resources range from textbooks and support materials to a wide range of revision products. For a limited time only, enjoy 20 per cent off all 11+ and 13+ revision resources from Galore Park. Find out more here.

What do pupils think of school closures and exam cancellations due to coronavirus? Find out here