This time of year, “will you help my child revise?” is the question that I am asked most often. My usual answer is that I will try.

For children in years 10 and 12, the obvious response is that they should be revising as they go along, which make the pre-exam revision in years 11 and 13 much less onerous. But by the time March arrives the following academic year, most have forgotten this sage piece of information. So now we are in emergency measures.

So, the first thing I am going to suggest is that your child needs to decide exactly what topics need revision. It is natural to stay in your comfort zone, and students frequently start off by revising their favourite topics or the ones that they think they are best at. These are exactly the topics that do not need revising! Look at previous assessments and mock exams and find the questions and areas where most marks were lost. These are the areas to focus on, not the ones you already know well.

Armed with a list, draw up a revision timetable. Be realistic – don’t pencil in four hours of revision a day if you do not have four hours spare already, this is a disaster about to happen as within a handful of days, the revision timetable will already be behind schedule. My suggestion is always 40 minutes of revision, and then 20 minutes break. It is well documented that 40 minutes is the optimum concentration time.

How to revise is very personal. I like mind maps and pictures, but this method is not for everyone. Some like flash cards – but I don’t. If you have a method that works for you, stick with it. Three months before a set of major public exams is not the time to try a new technique and find it not as effective as the old one. What isn’t going to work is reading the textbook or old notes. Read a paragraph, think about it, rewrite it in a different format. Any format. Copying out chunks of information word for word only means that the information goes down the arm and out through your pen. What the focus needs to be is to try and lodge the information in your brain along the way. And I can’t say this loud enough…. You cannot revise effectively from someone else’s revision notes. The revision is in the making of the notes and not in the reading of them.

Remember, there is no substitute for exam practice. Without exam practice you are unlikely to get a really high grade. Get hold of past papers and work books. If you find a question that you can’t do from memory, get your books out and try and work out a suitable response. You are much more likely to remember that information than by simply looking up the correct response on the mark scheme.

And finally, factor in some down time. Please don’t give up all of your hobbies just because you have exams. Watch rubbish TV just before you go to bed, pick up that trashy novel you’ve been meaning to read for ages, spend Saturday evening at the cinema with friends. Between now and the end of the exams is a long time and you need to pace yourself and not burn out before the end. It will end, and with any luck we all have a lovely, long, hot summer as our reward.