Thursday, 19 July 2012

Revision Techniques: Do's

I have made a list of 10 Do's that you should stick to when you revise. It doesn't work for everyone, but in general I think you should stick to these guidelines. My exam grades haven't let me down so far.


1. Make a revision timetable

These are always extremely helpful to make you stick to your timetable and actually do your revision. So many people tend to procrastinate and end up doing nothing at all during the day, so making a good timetable is key. Try and make it as realistic as possible. Making a timetable that makes you do 10 hours of work a day is not realistic, and is damaging to your motivation. Try and give yourself breaks in between sessions.

2. Give yourself motivational breaks or treats

The worst part about revision is getting yourself motivated. Once you actually start some revision, it isn't too bad, but it's the initial stage that people get stuck on. It's kinda like the pre-nerves before an exam, or before a speech or a performance. Once you actually start the exam or begin the performance, your nerves die down. With revision, the tricky bit is to get yourself started, and once you're in the mood and in the zone, you should be free to go.
Either give yourself a break, or a treat. For example, make yourself do 1 hour of revision, then a 15 minute break. Or give yourself some sweets. Just that extra injection of energy!

3. Put on some music
Some people may say music distracts you from your work, but I find that it keeps you entertained and free from boredom, so it prevents you procrastinating. Just put your music on a nice playlist, and let it run in the background - nothing too loud or disruptive, but just so that it puts you in the mood for work.

4. Make your own revision notes

This is strongly recommended. I always make my revision notes, and they can all be found here. Obviously reading through my revision notes are strong recommended too, haha, but do not make it your only source of  revision. By making your own notes, you are at the same time learning them, finding out what you know and don't know, as well as putting everything you know in order and brainstorming them. I'd say that making your own notes is the single most important part of revision and actually getting to know the content.

5. Highlight and annotate your notes

Making things stand out is key to learning from your notes. Try using different coloured highlighters, and annotating on the margin. Experiment and work out what is best for you. I find that highlighting in different colours make things stand out. 

6. Regular exercise

Scientists say that regular exercise is important for your concentration and I'm not going to argue with them. Rather than just staying in your room and trying to do 10 hours of revision a day, go outside and go for a run or play football with your friends. Although you should be working hard for your exams, you should equally reward yourself with something you like doing, like playing football, or another hobby. Something physical. This will make your mind sharper and allow you to focus on your work when you have to.

7. Drink lots of water/fluids

This also helps with your concentration. An easy way to know whether your hydrated enough is to look at the colour of your urine. It should be a very pale yellow, and not a strong yellow!

8. Try and work in the mornings and relax in the evenings

It depends on the person, but usually people work better in the mornings and less so in the evenings. Depending on what suits you most, make your revision timetable accordingly. If your a morning person, make sure you do majority of your work in the morning and afternoon, and give yourself a treat in the evening! If your an evening person, do the opposite, although I would recommend the former. Getting up early, doing your work, and then relaxing in the evening is a perfect combination of working as well as giving you a treat in the evening. Perfect for motivation.

9. Go through lots of past papers
Getting a rhythm of what the exam board's papers are like is your responsibility. Your school should help you out with this and supply you with plenty of past papers. If they don't give them to you, ask. You should find that although the exam board changes the paper every year, the syllabus does not change, and so the questions they can ask you are very limited. Every year, there are questions that are asked over and over again, or are tweaked very slightly. It is in your interest to learn the answers to those questions. Make sure you look at the markscheme and see where the marks are awarded. Exam technique is key.
You can compile a sheet of questions and answers that you want to memorise. I have done so for Chemistry and Physics and they are extremely useful.

Make sure you go through the past papers after having made your notes and learning them. There is no point simply doing past papers before you have started your revision. This is a waste of a past paper, and if there are a limited number of past papers available, this is the last thing you want to be doing. As you come nearer your exam, you want to be doing those past papers to get a feel for the exam and asking your teacher any questions which you are struggling with!

10. Make flashcards
If there are things you keep forgetting time after time and you just can't remember it, make a flashcard. Hole-punch all your flashcards and attach them all together using a treasury tag (or a piece of string). These things are so small that you can carry them around with you everywhere you go. It's so easy to learn things on a flashcard, because it's a small piece of card. There's only one information you need to take in when you read a single flashcard, rather than a whole page of A4. It's much more satisfying to read, and you will have learnt that annoying fact in no time!


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