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20 Jan 2020

How to revise

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At this time of year, one of the most common questions we are asked is ‘How do I revise?’. Revision techniques aren’t taught at school, partly because the effectiveness of strategies depends on personal preference. We introduce students to a range of revision strategies early in the year so that they learn which methods work for them. We set expectations so they know how frequently they should be revising to achieve the top grades. Say goodbye to beautifully colour-coded but unused revision timetables, or stacks of forgotten cue cards.

Here is our step-by-step guide, for GCSE and A level students, on how to revise.

1. Take 1 hour (no more!) to create a revision timetable for the next four weeks

Include the details of each topic you will study and dates of your exams. Re-evaluate the timetable each month, as your priorities will change. On average GCSE students study for 4 hours/ day, and A level students for 5-6 hours/ day, over the Easter break and study leave period. This balances time learning specific topics, with exam technique practice, using past papers.

Studies show children learn best when “little but often”. Breaking revision sessions into 40 minutes will improve concentration. Remember to get out of the house for some fresh air too! This will maximise the efficiency of your study time. Rewarding yourself after a successful revision session will also help to maintain motivation and a positive mindset.

2. Identify what type of a learner you are and select your revision techniques accordingly

If you are a visual learner, creating mind maps or cue cards, using colours and diagrams, for each topic, may be the most effective approach. For auditory learners, it’s a good idea to record yourself reading key points, dates and arguments. Listen to these recordings each day to consolidate your subject knowledge. For tech-savvy students, EdTech platforms like Seneca or GCSE pod are good ways to learn online, test yourself, and track progress.

3. Vary your revision techniques to improve attention

It may be a case of trying and testing a few in the first week to see what works for you – each student works differently! Collaborative learning with peers allows you to discuss ideas, debate and share knowledge. Essay-based exams will ask for two opposing points of view, so it can be useful to debate these arguments with peers beforehand.

4. Test yourself and track progress

Complete past papers and textbook practice questions under timed conditions. Marking past papers yourself, using a mark scheme, is very effective revision strategy. It helps students to understand the language examiners expect and will familiarise you with the exam format. Preparation is key!

5. Look after yourself

The revision period can be a stressful time. Looking after yourself so that you can be in the best frame of mind for your exams is important – remembering to eat and sleep well (and relaxing!) should help you to get through and get those results you’re after.

If you need any help with revision or exam technique, ask an expert. Your teachers at school and our subject specialists are here to support you through exam season, so please do get in touch. Best of luck.

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