Google ‘How to revise effectively’ and you will get over 13,300,000 results. Now of course I am not saying that I have read all of these, but I think it is a pretty safe bet that not one of them advises reading through all your notes the day before the exam and hope for the best. Some kids really struggle with revision, and often don’t know where to start. The old favourite of highlighting key information in texts a few hours before the exam isn’t always effective, yet many students favour this as it’s not very demanding.
So what are the most effective ways to revise? I will tell you!
1. Remember that all this has to be carefully timetabled. Consider an athlete preparing for an event or an actor preparing for role. Would they start the day before? Of course not. This is exactly the same for exams. The sooner you start the better.
2. Make a revision timetable that spreads out all your subjects and their topics, so that you are revisiting them often. Research has shown than cramming does not work. Instead you need to keep on top of every subject every day (A Level), or every few days (GCSE). Include a variety of strategies like the ones I have listed below!
3. Read notes and make flashcards
4. Use past papers to test yourself. Make sure you are practising for the exam method, so if your English exam requires you to write an essay on Romeo and Juliet, then your test should be just that. Many of the marks available will be rewarding essay writing skills as well as subject knowledge.
5. Allow yourself to fail. It really is OK! This will show you the gaps in your knowledge. Go back over your flashcards and test yourself again.
6. Mind map key concepts. Display these on your wall!
7. Use worked examples and check them against the assessment criteria. Look at examples for the grade you want, but also ones below and above. Make sure you understand how and why they have been graded differently. Then write a checklist of all the things you need to do to score that mark.
8. Teach someone. This is where parents you can be extremely useful! Get your teenager to teach you about the topic they have been studying that morning. Then relay back what they have taught you, and allow them to correct you. This will be a real confidence boost for them, as well as consolidating their learning.
Just to add, these tasks should be spread over 5-7 days. Research shows that cramming is the least effective way to revise for exams. They key is to distribute tasks evenly over a long period of time (think athlete and actor!)
If you think your teenager may need some extra support and mentoring during this stressful time then why not email me and arrange a clarity call? This season is stressful for the whole family. Let me take some of that away and help get your son or daughter exam ready.