How to Revise Effectively
Do you struggle with revision? Here are some tips to help you along your way.
Great Revision Tips
No matter how old you are, having to revise is pretty much a fact of life. For those of school/college/university age, you will have to revise for exams, and if you are in a job you may have to revise for a presentation or speech. It may seem very tedious, but the good news is, there are things that you can do to make it a lot easier for you to cope with. This article will give you some tips and advice about the best ways to revise.
Revise as you go along
When I was at school, I learnt that the more work you do at the time of first learning it, the less you generally need to do later. If there is ever anything that you don’t understand, it is important that you ask. If you don’t understand it at the beginning, you’re certainly not going to understand it when it comes to revising for the actual exam.
Everyday when you get home from school, you should take half an hour to read over everything you have done that day. You should do this before your homework, while the work is still fairly fresh in your mind. The way you mind works means that the more times you read through something, the more you will remember when you have to go back to it. The more that you remember at the beginning, the less stressful revision will be when you come to it at the end of the year.
When you reach the end of a topic, you should make a poster including all the information from that topic. You can use different colours and pictures, or just write in words; whichever you think may work best for you. Once you’ve made the poster, you should file it away for you to look at nearer exam time.
Don’t leave it until the last minute
As much as you think you might be okay if you just read over your notes the night before, chances are you won’t be. I would recommend that you start revision three months before the exam. If you can’t put in the amount of time that I recommend, just do as much as you can. I would warn you to be careful however, as it’s easy to be lazy about revision and end up having to cram in the very last week. I will break down the time for you below to show how much you should be doing:
3 months before the exam:
-Spend half an hour per week revising each subject (or if you are doing A Levels, each module.)
-Begin by going through your notes and summarising them into shorter notes. Make sure that you understand what you’re writing as you go along, and go and see a teacher if you have any questions. It is a lot easier to revise from shorter notes, so if you spend a little time doing this now, you won’t have endless sheets of paper when you finally get to the exam.
-While you’re revising for each subject, you should display the posters that you made (at the end of each topic, as described above) in your bedroom, and read through them each night before you go to bed. It might only take you five minutes, but will make a big difference in the long term, as you will remember the information a lot more easily.
2 months before the exam:
-At this point, you should be increasing your revision to about 45 minutes for each subject/module per week. Even though this might not seem like a lot, you will get everything done, as you started revision very early.
-If you are still at the stage of summarising your notes, you should use the time to complete this before moving onto the next stage.
-When you’ve summarised all of your notes, you are ready to begin the next stage of revision. For this stage, you will need a way of recording your voice. You can either use a dictophone or just your mobile phone to do this. You should start recording the notes that you have written onto the dictophone. You can either just read the notes, or read the point that you have made and then say a few things about that point. Once you’ve done this for all of your notes, you will be able to listen to it whenever you want to, meaning that you can revise on the bus, while you’re shopping or even while you’re in the bath! Because you have used your voice to read the notes, it allows your brain to process the information in a different way, so more of the information has been stored.
4 weeks before the exam:
-At this point, you should be trying out some sample exam questions. If you go onto the website of your exam board (ask your school/college if you’re not sure what this is) there will be all of the past questions from the past few years. You should print as many of these off as you can, and do one paper per subject/module during this week. You do not need to time yourself doing them- the point of doing this is to see what you do and don’t know. If there is a question that you don’t know, use your notes to answer it, and this will help the information to stay in your brain. You should find that you know quite a lot, as you will have revised in detail by this time.
-You should still be listening to the voice recordings that you made in the previous month whenever you have a bit of spare time, and you should be reading over your topic posters before you go to bed every night.
3 weeks before the exam:
-This week, you should be doing more exam questions, but this time giving yourself the amount of time actually allowed by the exam board. If you need to, you can still use your notes to answer the questions, but you shouldn’t have to do this very much by this point.
-Get together with some of your friends and test each other. By this, I mean that you should pick a topic, and have a debate about that topic. You should do this in the style of a television show, or just as a debate. This will help you to get facts into your head, as it will be a fun activity.
2 weeks before the exam:
-During this week, you should try to have a go at every single paper that you will have to attempt during exam time. You should do these under timed conditions with no distractions, and you should no longer have to use your notes. If you can’t answer a question by now, you should leave it out, and find the answer to it when you’ve completed the exam paper.
-You should download the mark schemes from the exam board websites and use them to see what grades you would have got. You should aim to get a grade above your predicted grades in all exams that you attempt, then you know that you have a little bit of breathing space should something go wrong in the actual exam.
1 week before the exam:
-This week, you should gather all of your notes together and simply read over and over them as much as you can. You should read a couple of points and cover them up, then try to repeat them to yourself and see how many you can remember. If you don’t remember one, you should repeat the process until you can remember everything.
The day before the exam:
-Today, you should read through your notes, but not panic. What you don’t know now, you most likely won’t know in the actual exam either. If you’ve followed my tips, you should have learned pretty much everything that you need to, meaning that by this point you should be feeling confident about what you will be able to do in the exam.
The day of the exam:
-No matter how tempting it might seem at the time, you shouldn’t revise before an exam. The important thing is to relax and not overload your brain before you actually go in. If you spend the couple of hours before an exam relaxing, you will feel a lot better when you get in there.
Get enough sleep
You might think that you’re being a good student by staying up for hours on end at night doing revision, but sometimes it’s more important that you’re awake and alert during the day, so there’s really no point in staying up for too long. You should get at least 8 hours sleep per night, and ensure that you have at least a couple of extra hours at the weekends, leaving you refreshed and able to cope with the week ahead of you.
Improve your diet
If you don’t have your 5 a day at the moment, then around exam time is the best time that you could pick. A lot of people eat whilst revising, so you should try to eat fruit rather than chocolate. While chocolate might make you feel awake and alert, it might actually slow your brain down and prevent it from storing information as effectively. If you eat healthily, your brain will keep hold of more information.