Whether you are getting ready for end of year exams, mock exams or your GCSEs it is important that you are adequately prepared. Failure to prepare and plan ahead is often cited as a reason for not doing well.
The key to success is LEARNING your work and this should begin at the start of your course. You need to concentrate in all your lessons from the word go and always ASK YOUR TEACHER if you ever have problems understanding the work – it will save you a lot of time when it comes to revision.
The following six steps should help you through the revision process.
GOOD LUCK from all the staff at St Damian’s!!!
Step 1 – Know what you need to do Countdown: Usually 3 months before your first exam
- Obtain the syllabus for each of your exam subjects. This tells you what you need to know in each subject and gives you your topics for revision.
- Find out what form each exam will take: written, oral or practical, and what sort of questions will be asked: essays, short answers, one word answers etc.
- Find out the dates and times for each of your exams.
- Draw a table similar to the one below, and write your exam subjects in the rows then fill in the date in the box next to each subject when you have completed each task:
||Make topic list
||Obtain revision notebook
||Make index card
||Try ‘Active Learning’
||Get all equipment ready
Step 2 – Plan Your Revision Countdown: Usually 12 weeks before your first exam
- Devise a wall chart for display in your room
- Fill in the days, times and places for all of your exams then work backwards from your exam dates and prepare a revision timetable over the next 12 weeks.
- Once you have drawn up a timetable make sure that you stick to it, and mark off each task as you achieve it.
- First, spend some time drawing up the weekly revision timetable below to identify those times which can be given over to revision.
Block out the times when you cannot revise because of other commitments such as lesson times, after-school activities and times for relaxation and enjoyment.
- Try to make more time available for revision by starting early in the morning when your mind is fresh.
- Aim to work in 45 minute blocks, taking 10 or 15 minute breaks. Make sure that you do include some longer quality breaks and incentives or rewards, especially after working on a subject which you find difficult.
Step 3 – Where to revise Countdown: Usually 11 weeks before your first exam
Prepare a place for your revision, and try to use the same place all the time. Use this list as a guide to the ideal workstation. Make sure you have:
- A tidy undisturbed place to work
- A table giving you enough room for your books
- A comfortable chair
- A bright table lamp or other light
- All the books you need – school files, past papers, revision guides.
- Pens, pencils, calculator, scrap paper.
- Notebooks for each subject, index cards, etc.
Step 4 – How to revise Countdown: 10 weeks before each exam
- Make use of the blocks of time already identified in your weekly revision plan.
- Make a start in each subject by producing lists of the topics which you need to cover from each exam syllabus. Enter the topics on your wall chart.
- Using your class notes and working through revision guides, make your own revision notes on each of the topics you have listed. Concentrate on understanding everything you write down and if in doubt ASK your teacher. Highlight in your notes key facts and ideas, definitions, formulae, theories, etc.
- Use a separate notebook for each subject and aim to build up and accurate and concise set of revision notes which are a condensed version of your original class notes.
- Try transferring some of your notes onto index cards for handy reference. You can use these cards to revise, test yourself and refresh your memory.
- Check and review your notes; are they accurate and complete?
- Why not compare notes with a friend and test each other?
Step 5 – Focus your revision Countdown: 4 weeks before each exam
- Practice examination questions from past papers. Get used to the look and feel of examination papers.
- Prepare for exam essays by looking at essay titles, identifying key words, listing ideas and preparing a plan.
- Try ‘Active Learning’ methods, such as briefly writing down important points, visualising information and drawing diagrams or flow charts, reading out loud.
- Test yourself by covering what you have written or drawn, writing it again from memory then checking against the original.
- Make up word games to help you or try tape recording important information then listening to the tape over again until you are tired of it!
- Begin to memorise your notes and index cards.
- Remember: Never try to memorise something you don’t understand; it won’t stick
- ASK NOW – it is your last opportunity!
Step 6 – The Exam Period
At the beginning and end of each exam day review your actions against the following checklist:
|The day or two before each exam go through your revision cards
|Make sure you know what will be provided for you in the exam and what you must provide yourself, and what you can and cannot take into the exam room
|Get all of your equipment ready – pens (+refills), pencils, calculator (new battery) and a clear plastic bag to carry them in.
|Check your exam dates, times and places again.
|Confirm travel arrangements
|Avoid late night revision or other activity the day before your exam; have an early night so that you will be fresh and alert.
|On the exam day make sure that you are comfortable and allow plenty of time for everything that you have to do
|At the start of each exam read through the whole paper carefully. Check the instructions and underline any key words that indicate how a question should be answered. Don’t rush.
|Look and see how many marks are given to each question and plan to use your time carefully. Don’t spend too much time on questions that you should, even if the last one is just in note form.
|Use your memory of revision cards and diagrams which you prepared to recall key facts and ideas. Jot them down quickly and then plan your answer carefully.
|Leave 5 minutes at the end of an exam to carefully check your spelling, grammar and presentation.
|Aim to prove to the examiner how good you are.
Nerves are normal but confidence comes through preparation
After an exam don’t worry about the one you have just taken. Think about what you did well and what you might improve for next time.