Hear a ticking clock? Clicking pens? The footsteps of invigilators stalking across halls…? Yes it is that time of the year again where a year’s work will be measured in a mere two hours, exam time…eeek! But we are here to calm your nerves and still your shaking pens, and offer you our top tips and guidance on how to to avoid that exam room panic by revising properly.
We have all been there, 2am cramming sessions on the the history of the USSR, or trying to remind yourself of the difference between longitude and latitude, and don’t mention Le Français…je ne parle pas! I think we do not need to explain why last minute cramming sessions are not the best way to ensure achieving the mark you want; not to mention how important getting your 40 winks is for making sure our grey matter is in tip top condition! So let’s have a look at some better ways to revise.
- Plan your Revision
Make specific times for yourself to revise and try your best to stick to them. This can be your ‘revision timetable’. It is also a good idea to make sure you prioritise what you need to revise first and write your timetable accordingly. Choose a time when you know you won’t be distracted and when you are more likely to be able to focus. For example, a Tuesday evening or a Sunday afternoon- come on Sunday night TV really is not that good. Tell your family and friends about your revision times, don’t worry about seeming like a nerd…geek is the new chic!
- Make Summary Notes
This is an oldie but a goodie. Clearly you will not be able to memorize everything that you have done in the past two years, therefore it is important to break things down and write summaries of the key things you need to remember. This is an especially good technique for the more literary subjects like History, English, Psychology etc. Summarise using bullet points and make sure these are logical with cause and effect connectors, so that you will be able to recall the next point more easily.
- Total Immersion
Surround yourself with your revision notes. Put notes up in places where you look every day- the kitchen, bedroom, even the WC. You would be surprised how much you will remember from just glancing every day at those pesky Shakespeare quotes that have so eluded you thus far. Making notes also on your phones or mobile devices helps so that you can look at them whilst on the bus etc. Also make these notes as eye catching as possible, you are unlikely to bother looking at a dull document. Spice them up and throw some colour on there!
- Learn with Style
Everyone has their own learner style and when revising it is important to know what yours is. You can take a test to find out here: http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/. Once you know if you are audio, kinaesthetic, visual or mixed, you can design your revision around your learner style. For instance, if you are kinaesthetic you will learn better through touch and movement and therefore activities such as jogging on the spot whilst saying the past tense of verbs or history dates may help you keep it in your mind. You may look like a ninny but who cares if it works- although to save street cred we recommend maybe doing this one in the privacy of your own home…Having to get up and write things on a mini board or designing mind maps will also help kinaesthetic learners. If you are an audio learner you absorb information best through listening, so recording your notes and listening back will be a great way to remember. Visual learners make sure you can see the notes and the words clearly and usually with colours added…highlighters at the ready!
- Practice Past Papers
Come on it is not rocket science folks…practice makes perfect. It is vital that you are familiar with the exam paper and how many questions you need to answer, this will ease the exam room panic as you will know what to expect. If you feel you have not been given enough practice papers in class, the exam board that you are taking the exam with should have plenty of past papers available on their website. If you don’t know the exam board, ask your teacher, or your Minerva tutor!
- Use Technology
Ye olde world has moved on from having to carve maths sums on rocks and revision is now very tech friendly. There are designated websites where you can do Maths revision such as: http://www.gcse.com/maths/ and the BBC have a great revision website for most subjects BBC Bitesize. What’s more the website www.examtime.com has lots of details on the best revision apps.
- Take Regular Breaks
If you are the average student then I don’t think you need to be reminded of this one. Still maybe there are some budding University Challenge participants out there who simply cannot tear themselves away from their trigonometry sums, in which case whooa slow down…the presidential campaign can wait…Dozens of studies have shown that the brain absorbs information better in small doses and taking a break is an important part of letting your brain process what you have done and refresh itself before the next session.
- Get a Study Buddy
Some people struggle to motivate themselves on their own and get bored and distracted without encouragement from others. If you are one of those people then it is a really good idea to study with a small group of people or with one person. You can also test each other and share your revision tips. However, if this is just an excuse to not revise and chat about the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries then don’t do it- this does not work for everyone.
- Treat Yourself
Cake? Chocolate? Killing zombies on Call of Duty? Trashy TV? Whatever floats your boat…use the promise of these rewards to motivate yourself into working for a set amount of time. Now is not the time to go on a strict diet, the exam period is stressful and you need to give yourself little treats for working hard. It’s amazing what the promise of a giant double chocolate chip cookie can do, speaking personally at least.
- Add Method to your Madness
Think about the best way to revise for each subject, for example flashcards may help you remember Spanish vocabulary but they will probably not help you remember ‘Of Mice and Men’ quotes. Match the method to the subject.
And that’s all we’ve got. We wish you all happy revising, and if you have any tips to share or would like any further advice you can get in touch here…now get revising! Tick tock…