With the Easter break fast approaching, summer exams for GCSEs and A levels are just around the corner. It’s the perfect time to plan your revision schedule and we’ve put together some top tips to help you get started.
1. Make space
Fitting study around a busy schedule can be a challenge. Make the best use of your time by creating an organised study space. With quick access to everything you need – you’ll work much more efficiently.
2. Plan your approach
Create a revision timetable by working out how many topics you need to cover and allocating revision sessions to each one.
Revisit the learning outcomes of your course to focus your mind on the key issues. Consider which areas you feel more or less confident in and prioritise your revision time accordingly.
3. Banish distraction
So, you have a plan... now comes the hard bit. Getting started can be difficult and distractions are rather tempting. It’s a struggle, but try to avoid Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social channels whilst studying. Keep your phone in a different room, where you can check it during a break.
Try to motivate yourself by focusing on why you’re doing it, breaking a task into smaller chunks, setting targets and rewarding yourself.
4. Use every trick in the book
Revision is all about committing information to memory, so you can apply it to different scenarios in the exam. Here are some common ways of learning and retaining information:
- Keep it simple: use bullet points, lists, headings and mnemonics
- Mix it up: use diagrams, quizzes, documentaries, pictures, audio, flashcards, posters and apps
- Do it your way: write notes in your own words to make them easier to remember
On repeat: re-read, chant and recite your notes
5. Think critically
Don’t just write reams of revision notes – test yourself as you work. Do you understand what you’re learning? Are there any areas that need more research or unresolved questions? Think about any patterns or themes in the information you’re working with. Why are they there? What other ideas support them – what do you think?
If you do identify areas that you still don’t fully understand, please contact your tutor or our Student Support Team, for assistance.
6. Understand the task
Every year exam boards publish examiner reports which outline exactly what they are looking for when they mark papers. They also detail what they don’t want to see.
By accessing the exam board reports you can identify key strategies for gaining higher marks. Learn and practice these strategies and provide examiners with exactly the type of answer they are looking for.
7. Question time
Once you’ve learnt the facts, start to apply them by completing past papers – at least two weeks before the exam. Familiarising yourself with how questions are worded and structured will help you to identify exactly what is being asked on exam day.
8. Build models
Using revision notes and past papers create a series of model answers and practice these in different ways:
- Planning answers in brief
- Writing full answers in timed exam conditions
- Drawing mind maps to capture every point
Discussing answers with your tutor or via our forum
9. Review and improve
Once you finish a past paper, reflect on your responses by going through the marking scheme. Think about areas for improvement and use the scheme’s model answers to identify any gaps in your knowledge.
The more past papers and questions you tackle – the more confident you’ll feel on exam day.
10. And finally, take a break
A tired brain isn’t effective, so take regular breaks and don’t sit at your desk for hours on end. Get out, take some exercise, eat and sleep well.
We’re here to help
If you have any questions or need guidance to help with your revision, please do contact your tutor or our Student Support Team.
From past paper marking to additional tutorials on key areas, our tutors offer additional services to help you prepare for exams. To find out more about these services, please get in touch on: 0800 389 2839.
We have worked closely with UCAS to prepare a series of free study skills guides, which provide further information and guidance.