Do you need revision tips? If the answer is yes, then you’ve come to the right place. Find our top ten revision tips here:
1 Timetable and Prioritise
Making a revision timetable is a good idea, but don’t spend hours making it as this will eat into precious revision time! Guidance for making an effective exam timetable is as follows:
- Sketch out a rough grid and put days/dates in
- Put in dates and times of exams
- Make sure you allow time to revise for the earliest exams first
- Allow additional revision slots for your weaker subjects, but be sure to include your stronger subjects, too – even if you’re confident with them. A recap is still valuable!
- Keep revision sessions to manageable lengths (perhaps an hour at a time?)
- Build in breaks and plan how you will use those breaks (more on that later)
2 Past Papers
Making use of past exam papers is invaluable for revision. Not only will it get you used to the format of the examination, it will also help you to see common themes/topics or questions which tend to come up regularly. Your teacher will have most likely already used some past papers with you in class, but it definitely doesn’t do any harm to use as many as you can get your hands on!.
3 Avoid Distrations
When you should be revising, any distraction can be a welcome distraction! So try to turn off the TV and radio, and if possible, leave your phone in another room. Try not to let chores, chatting or anything else pull you off task when you are in the middle of a revision session. Every productive minute counts!
4 Build in Breaks
Make sure you build breaks into your revision schedule. There is no hard and fast rule on how to do this. What works for one person may not work for another. For some it may be a 5 minute break every 20-30 minutes. Others may find that 10 minutes once an hour or 20 minutes every two hours works better for them. The aim is to keep your brain at optimal learning level – so as soon as you start to feel stressed, anxious or your attention keeps wandering off… it’s time for a break!
When you feel stressed, your body releases cortisol – and this chemical has been demonstrated to block your ability to learn… so finding a way to keep stress at bay is essential for effective revision. It can therefore also be a good idea to plan how you will make use of your breaks. Walking, yoga stretches, meditation or breathing exercises can be a good way to keep a lid on stress and keep your brain in a learning state. Eating regular, balanced snacks and meals during your break time is also essential for this. Avoid sugary, starchy junk food and opt for quality protein, fruits and vegetables if you can.
5 Turn Revision into a Fun Quiz!
This may sound like a joke, but revising really can be fun! One of the ways I’ve done this in the past, and which I found really useful was to get a set of blank postcards and keep them by my notes. Whenever I came across a useful piece of information which I needed to remember, I’d turn it into a question – I’d put the question on one side of the card, and the answer on the other. I’d then team up with a friend or family member, get them to run through the questions and quiz me on them. Having the answers on the back means that I could also quiz myself! These cards would then make excellent travelling companions everywhere I went and could be turned into the questions to use for a board game, a quiz over a pint in the pub or to simply go over when I had a quiet 5 minutes. As you get closer to the exam date, you can start to discard the cards you know the answers to and focus on the ones you’re struggling with to make the process more efficient. These final cards can even go with you to the exam and you can go through them right up until the moment you enter the exam hall (leaving them outside before you go in!) There is also nothing stopping you from storing the answers to the tougher questions in your short term memory, and jotting them down on the back of the exam paper as soon as you’re allowed to pick up your pen if you’re worried you won’t remember them if and when the question comes up in the paper!
6 Use the Syllabus or Course Overview
When revising, it’s useful to get a copy of the syllabus or course overview so that you can put your notes into a logical order and make sure you’ve covered everything that might come up in the exam. Doing this will highlight any part of the course you may have missed or lost your notes for and give you the opportunity to look them up or borrow the relevant notes from a friend.
7 Acronyms and Mnemonics
If you have lists of things to remember – like the names of the planets in the solar system – then you may find it useful to use acronyms/mnemonics to help you to remember them. These could be turned into simple posters to go on the wall so that you see them regularly and can keep reminding yourself of the things you need to learn. Here’s a good one for the planets of the solar system, to give you an idea of what I mean:
8 Write a Song!
If you’re a musical type, then putting key information you need to remember to some music may well help you to remember it. This strategy may not suit everyone, but could be worth a try. Alternatively, there are some superb songs already out there which you could use – try this one on for size (but don’t get distracted and spend hours on YouTube when you should be revising!)
9 Practice Essays
Much like doing past papers, if you have an essay based exam coming up, it can be useful to write some practice essays based on questions that have come up before. Try writing one, then covering it up and seeing how much of it you can remember/write out again without looking. When you get into the exam hall, it’s not likely that the exact same question will come up again, but it’s amazing how you’ll be able to re-use sections of your practice essays, or re-jig the answer to suit a slightly different question. Plus it will get you used to writing longer, essay-style questions which should help ease stress on the day.
10 Online Quizzes and Resources
There is a huge variety of materials and resources on the internet which can help you with your revision. One of my favorites, and one I used a lot when I was teaching is the BBC Bitesize resources. Again, try to avoid the temptation to spend hours looking for resources when you should be revising. Instead, it can be worth asking your teachers if there is a list of websites they might recommend.
Good luck and happy revising!
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