Tips for Effective Revision
In years 10 to 13 you will be sitting external examination for your GCSE and A-level qualifications. In order to help you practice for this type of examination, at the end of each year you will be sitting exams in each subject. We want you to be able to do your best in these exams and to use the opportunity to improve your revision and exam techniques.
How can you best prepare for these exams?
- Make a revision timetable
Check you have all of your supplies
- Paper/notebook/flash cards
- Pencil sharpener
- Details of what will be in the exam
- Computer (optional)
Don’t forget you will find lots of useful resources and links to helpful websites on your subject pages on Fronter. Make sure you make full use of what you have been given!
- Choose a quiet space to be your revision area. Ask yourself:
Do I have sufficient space to spread my work out?
Is it quiet?
Is there a TV or radio in the room?
Will I get interrupted?
It is important to have a ‘revision area’ and a different space where you will relax and take breaks. If you don’t have a suitable space at home, make the most of the school and local library services.
- Take short breaks between revision sessions. You shouldn't work for more than an hour without a break, but keep breaks to a maximum of 20 minutes. Use the break to refresh yourself with a healthy snack or a drink, and do something completely different.
- If you find yourself stuck, write down exactly what you find difficult and remember to ask someone reliable, for help the next day. Try not to search on the internet, as you can easily get distracted by other things on the internet.
- You shouldn’t be revising for too many hours each day or too late at night. Make sure you revise without distraction for a suitable period without forgetting to socialise and relax. Study different subjects on different days and don't stick to the subjects you are good at or prefer.
There are many ways you can revise; you have to find a method that works BEST for you. Here are some suggestions:
- Read through notes and use a highlighter pen to show the main points. Ask someone to test you on the highlighted points.
- Use the scan “first method” for longer texts (quick read, read again and write main points, read over main points).
- Make a list of the main points of a topic and keep writing them out until they are memorised.
- Use revision books, these will often already summarise the main points for a topic. Answer the questions on each page.
- Make mind maps - A mind map is a diagram used to visually organise information about a single concept. A mind map could be a web-like structure of words and ideas that are linked to one another.
- Answer questions from your textbook and mark them.
- Have another go when you make errors. Highlight any errors you don’t understand to ask a teacher or friend about.
- Go through test/exam questions under test conditions and then mark them.
- Make a voice recording of the information and play it back over and over again or put them into a song!
- As the exam gets closer give someone else your notes/flash cards/revision book and get them to ask you questions about the main points.
- Teach a family member about the topic you are revising – a chance to show off your knowledge and teaching is one of the best ways to learn!
Self-Regulation and Management of Stress
There may be times that you feel particularly anxious or stressed over the exam period. Remember this is a normal reaction – some stress in our lives is positive as it motivates us but too much stress can have a negative influence.
Anxiety and stress during the exam period can be managed. The earlier you find what strategy works for you, the better.
What is Self-Regulation?
The management of stress is based on something called self-regulation and this is a key component in controlling your emotions and responses to certain situations i.e. you choose the best response to a situation rather than acting impulsively. It is also about feeling positive emotions and expressing positive emotions to others.
Controlling negative emotions
Sometimes it is ok to let emotions control us, particularly when they are positive. Your excitement and joy at passing an exam, or achieving a target for the month, are appropriate expressions of emotion. But it’s not great to be controlled by emotions like fear, frustration or feeling stupid.
Emotional intelligence suggests that it's important to be aware of all our emotions, and once we're aware we can choose how we react and express our feelings. Self-regulation is about using self-awareness to keep negative reactions under control. So, try and identify why you are particularly stressed or anxious and use a strategy to conquer this negative emotion.
How do I know if I am stressed?
There are a number of warning signs. You may be struggling to concentrate; have memory problems; feel overwhelmed, be moody, constantly worrying, not able to relax at any point, have aches and pains, have nausea, have dizziness, be eating too much or too little, be sleeping too much or too little, have nervous habits (e.g. nail biting or pacing) or you may be neglecting normal day responsibilities.
What strategies are there to cope?
If you're feeling stressed it's very difficult to manage your emotions effectively. Some useful things to do to manage stress include:
- Breathing exercises – for example, counting to 20, or blowing bubbles in a glass to get your breath under control
- Healthy eating and drinking
- Exercising frequently
- Sleeping for 7 to 8 hours a night
- Make time for fun outside of revision
- Laugh more often
- Spend time alone – for example, read a book or listen to a relaxation CD for 5 minutes
- Do soothing, repetitive activities – for example, sorting objects by colour, shape etc.