Revision techniques

Everyone needs to revise, even if you predicted really good grades, you need to get the short term memory of what you know, into the back of you brain – the long term memory.

Firstly, I would say, is to begin revision early, I don’t want to sound like a nerd or anything, but I began in the Christmas holidays :) this means that I am slowly moving all the information that I have learnt from the front of my brain, the short term memory, to the back of my brain, the long term memory.

Before you start revising:

I would create a revision timetable. A good way of doing it is drawing up a table on a piece of A3 paper, creating one on Excel, or using It is really helpful; especially because you are able re rearrange what you are going to revise if you have another important thing to do. Also, when creating the revision timetable, be realistic, it is impossible for a person to stay focussed and revise the same thing for 3 hours straight. Make sure you include short breaks and time to socialize. Once you have made your revision timetable, stick to it.

Also, find out what type of learner you are. You could be kinaesthetic, music, logical, visual etc. This will show you which way you learn best. I, personally, more of a musical and visual learner; this means that I know that the best way to revise for me, is to listen to classical music and make posters.

Then, I would find a quiet place to revise, where there is no distractions; this could be in your bedroom at a desk, for some people, they find it easier to work in a conservatory, (but I don’t have one so that eliminates that place for me ;D). Spend some time clearing up the place so that you know where everything is. Make sure you have your revision material nearby so you don’t have to spend ages searching for them, which wastes valuable revision time.

During revision:

Take regular breaks. It is impossible for a person to remain revising for hours on end, getting more and more stressed. You should take regular breaks – when I say regular, however, I do not mean every few minutes, I mean every 45 minutes or so. Make sure however, the breaks don’t become ridiculously long; I would advise 5 – 10 minutes. If it helps, in your revision timetable, actually write in when you are going to have breaks and for how long, this helps you to be more organized and you are more likely to start work rather than getting distracted again.

Get enough sleep. I emphasize this. Pulling all-nighters are not going to help because you will be too tired to take in any of the information. A teenager should be getting around 8 hours of sleep each night. I generally go up to bed at around 11pm and done wake up to about 8am. I revise efficiently; you need to be relaxed and rested.

Be healthy. In general, everyone should be eating healthily and drinking a lot of water, but during exams, you need to be on top form. You should drink plenty of water (don’t overdo it though) and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Some people find it easier to have a bottle of water on the desk with them and when they get bored, procrastinating or hungry they will grab it and re-hydrate themselves. Try to also stay clear from tea and coffee, they do give you energy boosts, but they also hinder concentration levels. This is the same for all energy drinks. What should be giving you energy, is how much sleep you get.

Check the syllabus and mark scheme. Just make sure that you know everything on the mark scheme. In an exam, there will not be anything in there that you have not learnt. Also, when revising, you can tick the topics off when you have revised them. Going through the mark scheme is fairly self-explanatory, but if you do not understand a question for example, you can see what the examiner is looking for and then you can remember this for the exam. Yaaay easy marks!

If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask, go and ask your subject teachers, they are willing to help!

Also, leave some time for yourself, have some social time with your friends! It is my birthday in a fortnight, so I plan to do something with my friends. This will keep you in a good mood and keep you motivated to work. However, do not spend every possible minute socializing; if you think about it, you have 2 months after exams to socials and not do any school work at all!

Stay positive. I know exam time is really stressful, being stressed affects how much you can recall, to get over this, I would write a list of what is positive about yourself.

Experiment with different revision techniques. This makes revision much more interesting and you can concentrate for longer. I have found that making posters are a really good way of revising as I can use felt tip pens and stick them all over the walls ;).

Don’t cram all the revision in for an exam the night before; you are more likely to forget all the information. Like I said, you want to spread out the information over a period of time to move the information from the short term memory to the long term memory.

On the night before an exam, do some revision but don’t go over the top, relax a bit, you don’t want to go into the exam all stressed. Get a good night’s sleep and don’t worry about it; you have already done revision for it.

The exam:

Check you know when and where the exams are. The obvious really, it would be quite depressing really if you turn up to your exam to find that you are an hour late :/ I do however stress that you should arrive about 30 minutes before your exam so you can do the last bits of revision before going into the exam room. You would rather get to the exam early than late!

Make several copies of you exam timetable. Pretty self-explanatory, if you lose one, you have another in case. What I have done is input all the information into Excel and then backed it up onto a memory stick.

Before the exam starts and you are at your desk, I suggest reading through that notes at the front of the paper. I noticed today that a geography paper told you what MEDC and LEDC meant! Also, just as they say you may begin, take a deep breath, because you only save 0.41 seconds if you straight open the paper.

In addition, if you have an exam like maths, turn over to the formulae page and just write down all the formulae that you have remembered, so when you in the exam, you can then just forget about them and flip to the front page to see the formulae again.

Also, check how many questions you need to answer. I know that the geography specification that I am doing, you only need to answer three questions of the six in section B. you don’t want to be answering questions that you have not actually studied :S

Plan your timing for the exam. They say that for every mark of the exam, you should be aiming to spend one minute for each mark. Some papers also advise how long you should spend for each question. I would definitely stick to it.

Bring the obvious things you need. BLACK pen, pencil, rubber, spare pencil, colouring pencils for some subjects, highlighters, calculator etc, It looks bad to go in without a piece of equipment and the invigilators are not going to lend equipment to you.

Most importantly, don’t panic! Many people get worked up about exams; think that they are going to fail etc. But if you think about it on a larger scale, millions of people are in the same position as you, taking their GCSEs, A-Levels, BTECs etc. you are not alone. Take a deep breath before going in and smile. If you get all worked up, you are less likely to do well.

My Product Design teacher advised us to read through all the questions before answering anything, I agree. This is because you don’t want to answer one question and then the next question is basically the same as the answer you just wrote.

Another obvious thing about exams; MOBILE PHONES, IPODS, MP3s are PROHIBITED. Don’t push your luck and take it with you anyway, turn it off and put it away in your locker or something. Or even better, just leave it at home!

Try your best. No one can be perfect. If you find a difficult question, don’t get worked up about it, take a deep breath, fold the corner of the page, and move on to the next question – you never know, the answer may pop into your head whilst you’re doing another question :) If it doesn’t come, just guess, you never know, you could get it right! Also, exams like geography where you need to remember case studies and their facts, if you cant remember any facts. Make up realistic facts (someone in my class made up that only 8 people are allowed on Antarctica at one time:L and I did 12.5 million people were left homeless after an earthquake, when only 300,000 were left homeless:L)

After the exam:

Don’t be upset because you think you did really badly, you don’t know, you may have got an A* :D don’t spend hours criticizing yourself, this could affect how you do on other exams afterward. Smile and congratulate the fact that at least you tried your best and that one exam is over :)

After the exam, have a break, one month + off constant revision, you deserve a break. If you have another exam the next day, have an hour for a break before moving on. Just clear your brain and relax for a small amount of time.

Finally, if that was your last exam, give yourself a pat on the back, you now have 2 months of nothing! :D you can look forward to sixth form, A2s, uni :D