The exams are on the horizon, and thousands of you GCSE and A-level students are attempting to do some revision! But how can you make sure your revision is really effective?
To make sure you fulfil your expectations in this summer’s exams, you need to do two things:
Firstly, you need to revise effectively. Of course, this is much more easily said than done. So, what is the best way to revise?
The very best way is to revise actively. In other words, the revision you do must involve thinking activities which exercise the brain. Simply reading notes in an exercise book is not proper revision.
Proper revision is active. For example, if you are confronted by a large amount of written information, you need to tackle it sensibly. This means boiling it down into manageable chunks. It’s much better to have a series of bullet points rather than a massive wodge of dense text to cope with.
But how do you transform all that written material into manageable bullet points? Well, it isn’t easy. But if you put the time and effort in, you’ll do it and your brain will learn the entire contents of those densely written paragraphs into the bargain.
Read those paragraphs closely and say to yourself, “If I was to write down 5 or 6 bullet points which totally sum up what all this is saying, what would those bullet points be?”
You might agonise over this for a while, sifting through the whole thing, accepting and rejecting ideas until – hey presto – you’ve come up with, say, 6 bullet points which you think are the essence of that mass of information. Great – write those bullet points down!
FACT: If you read those bullet points one, two, even three weeks later, all that information you agonised over in order to arrive at those bullet points, all that densely written info, will pop straight into your mind IN FULL! You have learned it. Big effort, maybe – but the process has made your mind learn and remember it. It will be there in the exam hall. Well done!
After this, revise that part of the course from the bullet points only. Every time you read them, the whole thing will spring into your mind again. Fantastic!
Secondly, organise your time. Sounds easy? Actually, it is! Decide how much revision you think you can manage each day of the week. Next, create a timetable for this with each day’s timings clearly shown.
But here’s the clever thing. You need to make sure you have plenty of ‘you-time’ built in. And this ‘you-time’ cannot be used for revision – it’s not allowed! So, if your timetable says you should revise from 3pm till 5pm, well, during that time you should try your very best to do some good, active revision. But when the 5pm till 7pm slot comes along you are simply not permitted to do any revision. This is your time – time to unwind, listen to music, text your friends, do whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane and happy.
(Remember: there’s nothing worse than doing something you should be enjoying, but spending the whole time worrying that you should be revising. The above system gets you out of that stressful scenario!)
Two things you should do. First, active revision based on making bullet points. Second, a revision timetable in which ‘you time’ is ring fenced and non negotiable. Do these, and exam success can be yours in this summer’s finals.
Good luck!

– If you’re in the Skipton area I do offer a tutoring service for A-Level and GCSE history.

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