Key Revision Strategies, Tips & Tools to give yourself the edge in assessments or exams… Regardless of lockdowns and exam shake-ups, at regular points in a student’s life, revision skills will play a fundamental role in their success. Whilst there is no single approach that will work for every student, Bespoke Tuition offers 10 top tips on how to optimise revision time over the holidays from memory strategies to time management and handling those anxiety-inducing exam nerves.
Follow these guidelines on how to revise effectively:
- Allocate your time effectively
- Take a balanced approach to revision
- Supplement reading with ‘doing’!
- Condense your notes, smaller and smaller
- Use memory techniques
- Try ‘teaching’ yourself what you learn
- Utilise past papers, examiner reports & revision guides
- Refer to mark schemes
- Be kind to yourself
- Relax, get an early night and eat well
1. Allocate your time effectively
Draw up a revision timetable based on the number of days between now and the exam date, and the number of pages you have to learn. Be generous with your time to give you a chance to consolidate your learning and factor in extra time for those tricky topics. The best revision timetables are usually well structured, routined and realistic. Once you have created it, stick it to your bedroom wall and make a personal vow to stick to it!
2. Take a balanced approach to revision
Be organised and arrange your time so as to have sufficient down time for relaxing with your family and friends. Work out what time you are most alert and create a daily study schedule that means you are revising at the optimal time. Mix up the format of your revision with some pen and paper activities, some revision video resources and perhaps some revision mobile apps. Consider doing your ‘worst’ or ‘scariest’ subjects and topics first to get them out the way.
3. Supplement reading with ‘doing’!
Simply reading through notes does not absorb understanding. Rewrite your notes in a different format, create mind maps or label diagrams and use colour to highlight key points. You could try recording your notes on your phone or audio device and playing them back when you are travelling. Some students have an auditory learning preference, meaning they can retain and recall information better if they have listened to it.
4. Condense your notes, smaller & smaller…
Make summaries and be selective about the points you note. An important skill is discerning what is important and what isn’t. Rewrite your notes from an A4 page to half a page, to a small report card. The process of writing summaries will help to embed the information into your memory. You might even consider an executive summary of all of your summaries in a particular subject area.
5. Use memory techniques
Be creative with testing your memory: write out, then laminate, important points you need to memorise and stick them to the shower or bathroom window. You can also improve your recall by using memory tricks such as mnemonics. For example, many of us will have used the word BIDMAS or BODMAS in mathematics to help us remember the order of operations (Brackets, Indices, Division, Multiplication, Addition and Subtraction). Or try giving information context by creating a ‘memory palace’ where you associate words with images, objects or items in your bedroom.
These revision strategies should assist your exam preparation and help you to be more efficient, but please remember that exams are only a process of benchmarking you against your peers. Whatever the outcome, you still have every chance of being successful in life.
8. Refer to Mark Schemes
In order to achieve full marks, you have to understand what the question is asking and how the examiner allocates/deducts points. Use Mark Schemes and Assessment Objectives to try and mark your own work or your friends’ work. Ask your friend to justify the mark they have given and do the same in return. It will help you to assess their understanding and your own. You can also often find published Examiners’ Reports, which will provide information about common misconceptions and useful interpretations of the curriculum. Reading examiners’ reports will often highlight new areas of revision that you may not have previously considered.
9. Be kind to yourself
Strapping yourself to the desk for 8 hours a day will lead to burn out and brain exhaustion! Be sure to break up your sessions with fresh air and exercise to re- boot your system and give your brain a rest. Exercise stimulates the brain and helps focus and concentration so find a circular route near home where you can factor in a jog, ask a family member for a game of tennis or kick a ball around.
If you finish a chapter or topic, reward yourself with an evening at the cinema or out for dinner with friends. It is important that you have something at the end of the day to look forward to.
10. Relax, get an early night and eat well
The night before your exam, discuss your preferred evening routine with your family so they can support you. Put in a request for a favourite supper that will help you sleep well. Prepare all the materials you will need for the exam and the clothes you will wear, avoiding last minute stress on the day. Get an early night and decide what time you need to leave in order to arrive in good time to the exam location. Avoid excited chatter with friends outside the exam hall; this is an important time to go into your own thoughts, focus on the task ahead and walk into the exam room feeling calm and confident.
Still looking for a boost to give yourself the edge? If you find yourself in need of some professional revision support over the holidays, we are here to help. Bespoke Tuition can arrange for a tutor to come to your home or conduct skype tutorials to fit around your study schedule. We also offer a Revision Skills course which can be available online or in person.