'Oh you're a tutor? Do you have any advice?'
As soon as I tell people I am a tutor, I often get asked by a concerned parent in the vicinity if I have any advice. To start, I would ask about what subject, which level and what target grades we are looking at here but the reality is, it does not matter. Here's why...
If your child is studying for exams, you are seeing signs of stress and panic. Hours are being spent doing past papers, finishing off coursework and balancing prep for constant tests that teachers are throwing at them. The effort is real and the possible lack of improvement is frightening. Everyone wants to do well, we are all doing the same past papers and using the same textbooks. What is it that I would advise that you may not have heard before?
The reward to effort ratio is what separates those who get top grades from those who don't. I have seen it again and again in my ten years of tutoring. Regardless of subject, the trick comes down to doing what you are already doing, but so well that you feel 100% sure that your effort will lead to reward.
Let's break it down. What counts as effort? This is the stuff you do.
Hours of past paper practice and note making along with
Plenty of planning for the upcoming months of revision.
I'll be honest, this is NOT the problem. Your child is doing this or will do this at some point. Let's assume this is a given.
What counts as reward? This is the real difference between where you were before you did ten past papers and where you are now. Is your effort leading to higher grades? This is what your child should be asking themselves and is what counts.
My job always has been about ensuring the reward and removing the uncertainty that comes from hours of effort. My advice for this has nothing to do with subject, level or even targets. It comes down to what you do at the end of every bit of effort. This could be a past paper, a mock exam or even reading a chapter.
Let's say your child got 70% on a paper. They spent an hour and half on it, and are probably fairly pleased and ready to move on. In reality, real revision has not begun until you go on a hunt for the 30% that was lost. Find each mark lost, and make notes on why and how that bit of knowledge was missed. These notes, when made after each paper, for any subject, will form the insurance policy that ensures you WILL be better on the next paper.
The logic is simple; focus on things that you're getting wrong and fix them. C grades will become an A next time - you're ensuring that you know exactly what to do better next time. The best part is that these notes are uniquely for you. The result? Hours of effort are made worthwhile and practice is not in vain. You extract reward from mistakes, not from correct answers.
So if you're a parent who would like to help their child get more from their revision; this is the best advice I can give you:
Tell your child that doing one past paper and spending two hours going through their mistakes is far more valuable than doing ten and celebrating their correct answers.
The real reward is hidden in the flaws of an answer. Be brave enough to zoom in on these and you'll see the grades move up!
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