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Nail your exam prep! The expert guide for kids

Breathe deep! Who better to coach you through how to make the most of revision and stay cool ahead of exams, than Head of St Joseph's College, Laura Stotesbury?

St Joseph's College Reading Head Laura StotesbUrY

After two years in the academic wilderness, exams are back – and so is the anxiety. It is strange to think that there is currently no year group in schools which has sat public exams. So it’s possible that we’re all feeling a little more anxious this year.

Students who are about to sit A Levels are feeling the pressure having not had the experience of GCSEs behind them, and there are even some teachers who have yet to see a ‘normal’ exam season. 

While some students are delighted at the chance to own the exam room, some miss lessons at home and being assessed by their teachers. Prep for exams has always been about keeping heads in the game, and this feels particularly true this year.   

For parents, revision time can feel peculiarly stressful.  The tendency to intervene and micromanage can be overwhelming (and it is an urge to be resisted.)  Your job as a parent is to provide shelter, food, quiet-ish space and above all love.  You can’t sit these exams for your children, as much as part of you might like to (or not.)  Therefore, what follows is written with a student firmly in mind. Take is away, Laura… 

Teens exams revision

Make sure you’re up to date on the advance information published by exam boards to help focus on the content, texts, topics, themes and skills that students can expect in their exams.


At St Joseph’s, we focus on the best, up to date research to inform our revision strategies. Re-reading and highlighting are definitely OUT. Instead, retrieve information without prompts or cues, then go back and check your ideas against our notes to see what we have omitted.


Practise, practise, practise! Doing past papers will help to familiarise yourself with the exam format and types of question. Consider the timing of your exams and try to keep your work routine similar so you’re used to being ready to work hard at 1.30pm in the afternoon or first thing in the morning when exams start.


Having a single place to work that you associate with revision, removed from distractions can help to adopt the right mindset.

Teen sitting school Exams

Finally, try to keep everything in perspective; don’t be an ostrich but try not to become overwhelmed by exam nerves. Often, action (ie starting work) can be really motivating and lead you to do more.


Take regular study breaks. Step away from your screens and do something enjoyable. Exercise is proven to help engage your brain in study and improving exam performances.


Sleep! Sounds obvious but sleep is also essential. Not getting enough shut eye can affect your mental health and your memory.


Eat healthily, drink plenty of water and reward yourself when you reach your study goals.


Read my updated review of St Joseph’s College Reading here – and see the school for yourself at the next open events: Pre-Reception on 11 May 2022; Y7-11 on 12 May 2022 and a Whole School Open Event on 6 Oct 2022. Register here.

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