Exams looming? No need to panic, just get organised!
Find somewhere quiet to work, somewhere that you feel comfortable.
Take frequent breaks, work in short bursts; every 30 minutes or so, change topic or subject.
When you are revising, the trick is to be active. That means not simply reading your books and hoping that it'll sink in, but actually doing something with the information.
Where do I start?
A lot of people will put off a task if it seems too big and scary, and revision can seem like that.
So where do you start? It does not really matter, just pick something that you like, that seems "do-able" and make a start on that.
Promise yourself that you will start today (important!), at 6 o'clock (or whatever time suits you best) and stick to your promise!
Once you are into the routine of revision you will feel good that you are getting on with it, and it will not seem scary at all.
What sort of learner am I?
There are many ways to revise and learn, and you need to find out what works best for you. Take a look at this section, and also ask your teachers for advice.
Most people remember things visually - in other words, they remember a picture of what they saw when they read the page. If you are one of these people, try writing notes or equations onto one piece of paper and then colouring them in, adding curly bits, trees, animals and anything else that makes it stick in your mind. Then look it over once a day, and notice the shapes on the paper, maybe colour in a bit more. In the exam you will find that you can "see" the paper and remember what was there. If this describes you, you are likely to find "spider diagrams" a really helpful trick.
Alternatively. your mind may work more on auditory recall - you remember sounds. If this is you, and you like to have music playing when you work, try noticing what music is playing on the radio when you revise each bit, and this ought to help you remember the stuff you are revising. Say things out loud, perhaps record your voice and listen to it later. Or you could get adventurous and make up songs or rhymes to help you remember ("one upon 2 pi root L C, equals the resonant frequency". An equation to do with how radio tuners work, way beyond GCSE level but it's still stuck in my head 17 years later. Sad, huh?)
Other people remember "kinaesthetically" - they remember the muscle movements they made when they did something. Write things out on a sheet of paper, cut it out to make a jigsaw, then sort it out - there is an example below. Practice your jigsaw each evening - with practice it will only take a minute or so. In the exam, cast your mind back to that jigsaw, and the information should come flooding back. If this is you, then moving around as you work may help you to remember, as will any kind of cutting-and-sticking. If you play a musical instrument, you could combine the muscle movements and the sound-recall ideas, just as you did when you learned to play the instrument.
Other people are better at recalling feelings. If you are somebody who is particularly aware of how people around you are feeling, or particularly aware of how you're feeling yourself, then use this to help you recall the information you need for exams: "...oh yes, I remember that - it was in the lesson when xxxx was upset because of what yyyy said..." - make a point of noticing at the time, but not at the expense of paying attention to the work in the lesson!
So which type of mind do you think you have? You are most likely to be a mixture of all of these, but by picking out a few of these ideas that you like the sound of, you can make life much easier.
Making it stick
Now you have an idea about what works for you, here are some tricks to try:-
Remind yourself over and over
- If you revise something tonight, by this time tomorrow you will have forgotten at least some of it.
- Take another quick look at it tomorrow, to "top up" your memory.
- Take another quick look next week, and keep "topping up" until the night before the exam.
- This does not take long to do, and is usually quite comforting - you feel good because you find that the information looks familiar each time you look at it and because it is quick you can easily fit it in with all your other revision.
- "Look, Cover, Write, Check"
This is probably the way that you learned spellings in Primary School.
- Read it,
- Hide it away,
- Write it out,
- Check to see if you got it right.
This technique is good for spellings, diagrams, equations, lists of facts and a whole lot more.
Remembering labelled diagrams
Draw a copy of the diagram - but without the labels, then try to fill in the labels from memory.
Go through your books highlighting key words / key ideas. Not only does this make it easier to revise later, but the act of scanning through your books looking for the key information helps you to remember it. (Might be an idea to ask your teachers first, before you do this to your books, but if you explain why they will almost certainly be delighted that you're getting on with your revision)
Make summaries of the information
For example, try to get the whole topic onto one side of A4 paper as it will helo you to fix the information in your mind. You might like to use" web diagrams" (you might call them "spider diagrams") - they really help to show what's in a topic.
Make your own "Flash Cards"
These can help you to remember facts and equations. The idea is to carry them with you, and look at them when you have a spare moment (lunch queues, break times, on the bus...) You could put headings on one side and details on the other.
Work out "what could they ask me about this?"
For example, in a question about acids and alkalis, it's a safe bet that you will be expected to know about the numbers on the pH scale, the colours that Universal Indicator goes, and what "neutralisation" means. In questions about the planets, expect to be asked about their names, the order they are in (counting outwards from the Sun), which ones are hottest/coldest, which ones go round the Sun fastest.... you've got the idea.
Practice on real exam questions
The more you can try, the better. You wouldn't expect to do any other performance without a realistic rehearsal, and this is no different.
Be clear about what you're expected to know, otherwise how do you know if you have revised it all? Check with your teachers if you are not sure. Go along to any revision sessions that you can. These can really boost your confidence, which is what many people need the most. You will probably also be able to ask a different teacher about any bits that confuse you, and have it explained in a different way.
Identify your strong and weak areas, then you will know where to concentrate your efforts. Go through your books and put green blobs beside the bits that you are happy about, and red blobs beside those you find more difficult. This wa, you will know what to ask your teachers about at those revision sessions.
Thinking of buying a CD-ROM to help you revise?
Do not get the first one that you come across - it may not suit your style of working.
Find out about the different ones on the market: some are more "dry" and academic, others are better at boosting your confidence. Ask your teachers about whatthey think is best for you.
Try also working with somebody else.
There's an old saying: "the best way to learn is to teach" Try it!
If you can explain stuff to somebody else, then you know that you have got it straight yourself.
Know any good revision web sites?
- www.what2learn.com Great flash revision games for KS3 and GCSE
- BBC Bitesize Revision: Key Stage 2 SATs (age 11), Key Stage 3 SATs (age 14), GCSE
- "SAM" Self Assessment & marking KS2, KS3, GCSE, 'A' level, most subjects. Revision & test practice.
- GCSE Answers
- s-cool.co.uk : 'A' level & GCSE help
In the exams
- Make sure that you have everything that you need (pens, pencil, calculator & spare batteries, ruler, etc.)
- Keep an eye on the time.
- If you get stuck on a question, do not waste time on it - move on and come back to it later if you can.
- Check to see how many marks each bit is worth.
- Do not write huge chunks for one-mark questions - you will not get any extra marks for it.
- If a question is worth two marks, you probably need to say two different things. (Not say the same thing twice!)
- Read the questions! Each year thousands of people lose marks because they rushed into an answer before they'd understood what the question was actually asking.