Suffolk tutor with 100% success rate reveals 10 indispensable GCSE revision tips
- Credit: Ryan Kuhl
Exams...Love them or hate them, they are the final leg of a long journey.
Sarah-Jane Page, director of Framlingham-based EASTuition tells her students that if they follow the right path at this point, they will reach their desired destination. But, she warns, taking short-cuts and trying to find an easier route could lead in a direction from which it is difficult to return.
These are her top 10 tips for staying on track...
•Make time your friend
You’re so used to working to a timetable at school, it makes sense to stick to it in the holidays, or during study-leave, to keep things structured.
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Make a realistic revision timetable – six sessions a day, six days a week. On your day off, don’t even look at a book.
Keep each revision session to 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break in between – three sessions in the morning and three in the afternoon.
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Work out the total number of revision sessions you’ll have over the holiday period or study leave, and allocate sessions to subjects according to the level of work you think you need to do for each.
Don’t spend six sessions a day on the same subject. Alternate between subjects, with no more than two consecutive sessions on the same one.
Make a timetable for each day and work out, in advance, what topics you’ll focus on in each subject, promising yourself you’ll stick to the plan – you’ll be so proud of yourself if you do.
•Create a good study zone
A tidy desk is a tidy mind. Sort out your study area to create a calm learning environment. De-clutter your desk. Remove anything that’s not related to revision. Clean and polish. Even some fresh flowers in a vase will help.
Stock up on paper, sticky notes, a range of highlighters, fineliner pens and revision cards. Have them to hand. Remove all devices – phones, tablets, music; save those for your breaks.
•Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Break your topics into bite-size chunks to stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Focus on one topic at a time and commit to learning it in as many active ways as you can.
Don’t save the difficult topics until last. Attack them first and intersperse them with topics you find easier. You’ll empower yourself by facing your topic-fears – learning is a psychological process too.
•Drip-feed your information
Revising the same information two or three times over the space of a few days increases the chances of you remembering it all. A drip-feed approach to revision is far more effective than a big binge of cramming. The nearer to the exams you are, shorten the space between each feed.
•Talk it out
We learn best when we teach others. Explain key theories or steps to a friend or family member. Talk your way through a problem or a question and explain how you’d answer it – that way, you’ll cement your knowledge and expose any gaps that you can then re-visit.
•Get someone to quiz you
To consolidate knowledge and ensure understanding, get someone to ‘quiz’ you on your notes with ‘quick-fire’ questions. Once you’ve done a topic and have moved on, ask that person to bring in questions from previous topics to keep it all fresh.
•Use ‘worked’ examples
Looking at a model answer is an ideal way to sharpen your awareness of what you’re aiming for. Exemplar materials are available on most exam board websites – ask your teacher for examples too.
Make your learning active. Think of ways to make your learning more tangible. Turn words into diagrams and pictures.
Make flashcards for each step of a sequence with words, symbols or pictures – whatever helps you to remember things. Practise putting the cards in order until the sequence becomes automatic.
Use highlighter pens in contrasting colours to emphasise important points.
Make a storyboard of literature texts or historical facts.
Use role-play for key characters – get someone to interview you as that character and speak using their language or quotes.
Record key facts, vocab or quotes onto your phone and listen as you exercise – anything so your head’s not in a book and your pen’s not on a page all the time.
•Ask for help
If a topic has you pulling your hair out, ask someone for help – a friend, a parent or a teacher. It takes strength to admit you’re struggling, and asking for help makes your conviction to success even stronger. It’s a win-win.
•Believe you can, and you will
Don’t go into your revision with a self-defeating attitude. No matter how hard or boring you find things, tell yourself that you’re working on it and you’ll get there if you stick at it. Show grit.
If you find yourself getting wound up or annoyed because you can’t do something easily, take a break, talk it through with someone, and return to it with fresh eyes. It may be that you’re trying to learn it in the wrong way. Think about how you learn best and then try again with a different method. Success is a mind-set.
For a full revision guide, click here.