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Archive for March, 2010

Revision tips

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

GCSE’s or A levels looming? Here’s a few tips for revision we hope you find helpful.

1. Get organised!

Don’t leave it until last minute to revise; last minute cramming can lead to panic, lack of sleep and not so great results so be sure to plan ahead and get organised. Honest, it’s easier to do little bits more often and over a longer period of time than try to cram a lot of stuff into your head at once.

  • First, find out when your exams are – in the main summer exam season you may even have several exams on one day with little time in between
  • Second, try to organise a timetable for study – one idea is to follow your school timetable for either lesson or homework.
  • Allocate time for each subject and possibly more time for weaker areas or subjects you really need the best grades in

Be realistic with yourself – its great making a timetable that gives you 2-3 hours revision per night. But is it realistic? Does your revision timetable fit around school/homework; does it give you any free time? If it’s an unrealistic timetable, it may well look good on paper but it may give you added stress because you can’t stick to it!

  • Part of being realistic is planning for free time. Free time is important. Learning is far more effective when our brains are fresh and not worried/panicked about the huge tasks ahead.

 2. Know what stuff you need to learn.

This may sound obvious but it’s no use learning stuff that’s not going to be on the exam.

  • Check you know the exam board and syllabus you are taking for each subject – ask your teacher if unsure and ask for a syllabus. A syllabus is often a great revision guide itself. It lists all the stuff you’ll be tested on.
  • Find a revision guide that’s syllabus specific. Also, when looking for revision guides, look for one that appeals to your learning style and don’t necessarily go with the one all your friends have. For example I prefer the colourful, more picture based books than those full of mind maps and plain boring writing.

 3. Do you understand everything you need to learn?

Trying to learn something that makes no sense is very difficult – remembering facts about stuff you did understand is hard enough. If there’s a particular topic, or topics, you struggle to understand, ask your teacher to explain. Alternatively, ask if your friends know – maybe they understand topics you don’t and vice versa. Or, maybe your parents can help. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. If teachers, parents and/or friends are not helping you, that’s why many students find a tutor. Tutors can often help you find out your learning style, give you tips/hints to revise as well as knowing what you need to know and explaining the tricky topics.

 4. Work out how you learn best

Or try different methods to find learning techniques that’re right for you – a combination of methods and/or a different method for a different subject may work best for you. Try these….

  • Do mind maps work?
  • Does writing notes help? Care though, many students write notes and think that’s revision, but ask yourself. After writing loads of notes – have you learnt anything? Were/are they useful, or did your mind wander?
  • Do highlighters and colours help?
  • Do pictures help?
  • Do you prefer listening? Revision CD’s & many online revision sites have recordings of teachers talking through the topics.
  • Do discussion and/or question & answer sessions help? Some people learn best by being asked questions and/or discussing topics. If you can explain your answers or knowledge on a topic to someone else, it will show you how well you really understand the topic and also help keep the information in your head. A small study group of friends may be useful (but be careful here not to stray off the subject!).

 5. Split learning into smaller chunks

Try breaking subjects down into headings and learning a little bit at a time. Often, splitting learning into smaller chunks makes the whole task appear much less daunting. ‘Bite size’ revision can be very effective – check out the BBC bite size revision site.

 6. Test yourself & practice using past papers

Past exam papers are a very useful way of testing if you can apply what you learning – ideally you also need the mark scheme so you can check you get the right answers, see where marks are awarded and for what and the type of answers examiners are looking for.

Past papers also give you an idea of the type and style of questions asked and most subjects seem to have favourite/popular topics that are tested more often than others. They also let you see how much time you have and the format of the exams. Knowing what you’re about to face means fewer surprises on the day.

 7. Stay healthy

  • Eat right – ‘brain food’ such as Omega 3 foods are a essential for developing cell membranes and signal pathways. Fish, grass-fed meats, some nuts and blueberries are some good sources. If you are a snacker, try to snack on foods with natural sugars rather than sweets and chocolates.
  • Keep hydrated – drink enough water to keep your body working efficiently.
  • Sleep right – too much or too little sleep can affect learning.
  • Keep fit/healthy. Plan for ‘time out’ – its important not to overload yourself with work as it can be counterproductive. Reward yourself with breaks throughout the day, or even plan for whole/part days off. This will give your something to look forward to and work towards.
  •  Plan right – to avoid stress of last minute cramming and panic

 8. Exam day

Arrive in plenty of time, make sure you’ve got pens, pencils, sharpeners, rulers and other necessary stuff, like calculator for science and maths [best to get this ready night before so you don’t panic on the day]

Stay calm, read the question, don’t panic if you don’t know the answer – move on, answer all questions you can, then come back to the ones you found more difficult – for more on exam tips see our other post. And finally,  Good luck!

 If you need help with revision, exam technique, explanation of topics or just confidence we have private tutors across Manchester and Cheshire that can help you with your GCSE’s and A levels and many tutors will offer Easter revision tutorials. Contact us today