Struggling to get back into school? Not sure what you should be doing? Advice for S4-6 students!

Struggling to get back into school? Not sure what you should be doing? Advice for S4-6 students!

So, the schools are back and homework is either starting to pile up, or you think you have nothing to do… if you are in S4,5,6 then the summer holidays are definitely over.

Although many students have tried to argue that they have nothing to study, this is definitely not the case! There is a whole range of different materials online for you to use in addition to a wealth of textbooks.

Maths – textbook practice, worksheets, practice exam questions!

English – reading that play or book you were meant to finish over the summer, revising the text on BBC Bitesize or finding other resources online (a quick google search and you’ll have lots to be getting on with), practice essays, practice textual analysis, newspaper homework, close reading practice… you’ve always got things to revise for English. Remember you should be trying to read before bed on school nights too – audio books are never a bad thing, Amazon’s audible offers a monthly service at £7.99 a month that I’ve used. No contract and much cheaper than spending £20+ on one audio book. You can listen to a sample of the book before you buy one too.

Other subjects – use the information you have, or find it online. DON’T just stare at it and hope it’ll magically make its own way into your brain. Mind maps, simple lists (I’ve shown some of you what I mean by this – ask if you want me to explain), past paper questions etc.

Remember, if you read something out loud before bed it’ll store in your memory better – particularly helpful for French, English quotes etc.

Review from before summer

Remember, the courses started in June so you now have at least 5 weeks worth of subjects to learn, revise and answer exam questions on.

Your teachers don’t have time to go over all this material again, so it is your responsibility to go over the work, use it and do exam questions on it! Being 15 years old and above, you now need to start taking more responsibility for your learning and that includes getting on with your studying without needing your teacher to do it for you.

Study Plans

A few of the students have looked at me like I’ve cancelled Christmas, FOREVER when handed a study plan during the last 10 days. Nat 5s and Highers are hard work. The advice given at different high schools in the Borders is very varied but the exams are the same! You should all be doing bits of revision from now – in addition to homework. Homework is given to help with your learning so it is required alongside studying.

The way I see it, you are going to work for 40 hours in whatever career you choose for the future. Very few people actually enjoy their jobs, so if you want those 40 hours to be enjoyed, you need to work hard during your S4, S5 and S6 years.

How much studying should I be doing?

A Nat 5 requires at least 3 hours of study per week – that is for each subject!

Higher subjects are hard work and require between 5-8 hours of study each week – again, for each subject!

What about a social life?

While it is really important that you get some exercise, and some down time there is a real problem with how S4-6, especially those doing several highers, thinking their social life should operate as before. You are doing subjects that contribute to your future – you need to put the work in for that! Very few people are capable of breezing through subjects, especially at higher level.

Get out and see your friends, enjoy your social lives when you can, but realise that for this school year, and potentially the next few years you, will be working hard studying! It is your long-term future we are talking about. If you are organised and use your time well, a social life can be part of that too.

Some of you have said that you refuse to study at the weekends despite sitting 5 highers, 4 highers and a nat 5 or some other mix which includes 3+ highers. Quite honestly, the only way you are going to do well in your subjects by taking that attitude is working really hard during the week. Even then, after the October holidays you will need to add some weekend studying and increase as you head towards prelims – they are about 18 weeks away!!!

Working while studying

A few of you have part time jobs, this is part of being a 16 or 17 year old – earning your own money. Please DO NOT work anymore than 10 hours a week during term time as this seriously affects your grades! Holidays in S4-6 aren’t really holidays either, they are for catching up on work – particularly those of you doing highers, so don’t take on extra work during school holidays, if you can help it.

Don’t dwell on past exam results

I know that exam results haven’t been out long, and they are likely to still be mentioned at home. Please, DO NOT dwell on your exam results, use them as motivation but don’t think about them constantly. If you have parents who keep going on about them 1. remember it was only 3 weeks ago they came out so they will be raw about your results, 2. show them this post – parents please don’t undermine confidence by repeatedly referring to the results during this school year, it doesn’t help and is counter productive and 3. YOU, yes you, the teenager reading this post – take responsibility for your own  learning and get stuck into your studying! If you need help with materials, ask! If you need help with planning your time, ask! If you need help knowing how to study, ask! These are your exam results, not your parents’ so you need to take responsibility for them!

You can do this, it just takes hard work! Here if you need a chat, in confidence – of course! You’ll be thankful come exam results day, promise…



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