Planning Revision

Start off by asking yourself some basic questions.

  • When is the exam?
  • What will I need to remember?
  • What will I need to understand and how will I show this?
  • What will I need to be able to do?

Use the list you’ve put together – perhaps checking it against the contents of a revision guide, syllabus or checklist from a teacher – to choose priorities. Some stuff you’ll be confident with and will just need to check a few times between now and the exam. Other parts will be worrying you already and these need to be addressed first. The question is how.

  • practice papers or exam-style questions are really useful to test yourself.
  • use active methods as described in MORSE code.
  • set aside one hour sessions, early in the evening or in the morning at the weekend.
  • in advance, make sure you’ve paper and pens, calculators, revision guides and relevant bookmarks online.

During your revision time, try to make sure distractions are limited. Opinions on music are divided, but you may want to turn it down. (You might find thinking about the music you played while revising helps you remember the facts you covered.) Turn OFF the TV. And unless you are sure you can avoid Facebook or similar, avoid depending on the internet. At least set email and message notifications to ‘away’ so you don’t get interrupted.

In the hour session, don’t try to work continuously. Set yourself a target – a certain amount of material you want to be familiar with by the end. You might want to focus on one area, or cover some verbal work and some mathematical. Work for 15-20 minutes, then take a break. Repeat. Finish by assessing what you’ve learned – perhaps by past papers, or having a friend or family member test you – and planning your next session. This can be as simple as writing a key word and a textbook page number at the top of a piece of paper. Next time you need to revise, open the folder and you’re ready to go with no messing around.

Aim to review each part of the syllabus at least twice before the exam. The week before, skim through everything at least once. (This will tell you how early you need to start revising.) Don’t waste time on a pretty, full-colour timetable months in advance. Instead, set up a weekly schedule, with gaps to allow for likely delays, and try your best to stick to it. Have at least one day in the week as a total rest.


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