Revision guidance - GCSE and A-Level exams are the ‘make or break’ point of a student’s life. How often have you heard this assertion from your parents or your teachers? Endless ranting on about how you should go to your room and STUDY! What exactly does studying mean? Shall I read a book, copy some notes or try doing some homework that I don’t seem to understand? Students often find themselves going to their rooms, opening their books only to realise that their mind has gone blank. If this sounds like you then read on to find invaluable revision guidance.

When it comes to taking exams everyone feels nervous. Students often long to find ways in order to control those nerves however, they often find themselves directed to pointless websites which tend to add to their frustration. Let’s get right to it - Here is a revision guide which will help calm your nerves.

Revision guidance tip 1. Understand yourself

Despite how many times we are told that memorising is not a part of revision, the reality remains – it is important. Students must be able to memorise concepts such as formulae, definitions and labels of diagrams to achieve good grades.

In order to retain information in the mind it is essential to revisit information numerous times - also known as rehearsing. There are several techniques which can help students memorise information including:

Chunking information – which involves grouping information. This can involve working with flash cards and writing related notes on each card.

Use of visuals – this works wonders, especially when memorising a longwinded topic.

Reading out loud-to yourself or someone else (who can tolerate you doing so). This will allow you to recall your own voice when sitting exams.

DIY Audio – Record your notes using a Dictaphone or a mobile phone recording app and play it over and over again. This works exceptionally well when you need to memorise long text or quotations. This is also effectively for learning vocabulary in English and foreign languages.

Associating information with objects – This is probably the most important one. Students learning a list or a particular topic should associate each part of the topic with something. For instance if a student has to learn the symptoms of several diseases, associate each disease with a person that you know (as sad as it sounds it really works!) This enables you to recall them as a disease and hence associate the symptoms with their characteristics or appearance.

Associating information with scent – This works well with long essays or essay style questions. Whilst learning several essays it is easy to get points mixed up among them. Therefore when learning a particular essay, spray a perfume on to a part of your hand and keep smelling it as you learn. For different essays spray different perfumes in various areas of your arm. When you attend your exam, ensure you have sprayed the right areas with the right perfume. This will trigger rapid processes in your mind whilst recalling information in the exam.

In either case do ensure that any bit of information you learn is REHEARSED. According to scientific research when you learn something new, the information starts fading away within a few hours. If you revisit the information you have learnt after a few hours, you will slow the fading process for to up to 24hours. Revise it again and the fading process slows further until you retain the information for a week, a month and so on. This process will certainly depend on individual circumstances however; it provides a rough indication of the route students should follow.

Revision guidance tip 2. Make a realistic working timetable

It’s easy to make a timetable for revision however, it’s not so easy making a timetable that is actually practical. Often students find themselves creating a timetable which is impossible to implement. It is important that your timetable suits you and in doing so you must understand your own learning capacity. It may take several attempts to create a revision timetable that actually works for you. Be prepared to make amendments to your timetable so it suits your needs. But be careful you do not spend your entire revision period in constructing the ideal revision timetable and are ultimately left with little or no revision time.

Revision guidance tip 3. Put aside specific hours

In our experience, the best time for a person to revise is the early hours of the day, when the brain is fresh. If you set aside some time make sure it is consistent every day. This will allow your brain to conform to the daily pattern increasing your receptiveness as time goes by.

Revision guidance tip 4. Write good notes

Notes should be written neatly and concisely. Ideally you should use more than one source to write your notes. This may include your school notes along with your tuition notes. Like this you are less likely to miss a point. Where possible use visuals including tables and diagrams.

Revision guidance tip 5. Try to develop a sleeping pattern

Sleeping well means being fresh when waking up, allowing effective learning to take place. Unfortunately, students often tend to have a disturbed sleeping pattern when it comes to exam periods. It is a good idea to get into a sleeping pattern at least three months prior to your exams.

Revision guidance tip 6. Test yourself or get others to test you

It may seem that mere studying and rehearsing information is the best way to revise. However, researchers have found that rehearsing and then being tested on information is more effective. This allows one to identify the areas of weakness.

Revision guidance tip 7. Eat properly

Often students find themselves nibbling on snacks consisting of high sugar and salt content. This not only causes your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly (which can cause diabetes and obesity to say the least) but can also result in you feeling more tired (as the sugar peak tends to drop rapidly). The best thing to do is to maintain a healthy balanced diet with lots of fruit and fibre. This allows you to feel more energetic and will mean that your mind will drift off less when ‘studying’.

Revision guidance tip 8. Get regular exercise

We cannot express how important this is. Often this is the one factor which students tend to overlook in the revision periods. Exercise not only makes you fit physically and mentally, it allows you to feel good about yourself. We are not advising you to play a full 11-a-side football match, after which you feel like resting the entire day. Although you should allocate around thirty minutes to exercise a day, which will keep you active. This could be as simple as taking a jog around the block or going for a bike ride in the park.

Have you implemented the revision guidance mentioned on this page? If so, let us know how it helped. We would love to hear from you.

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