Revision Tips, Tricks and Secrets!

So, exams are coming and you have to revise. But, do you know how to revise?

We’ve compiled some top tips, tricks and some not so secret secrets to help you boost your confidence and subject knowledge.

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Examiners’ Reports

First up, we’ve got some great advice from Thompsonic7, a member of ‘The Student Room’:

My number one gold-star advice (and I genuinely believe this is the only reason I got my A* in English language) is this: read the examiners’ reports. Then read them again.

What baffles me is that, year upon year, the exam boards make public a document that is, wait for it, written by the people who are going to mark your papers. And in it, they tell you what they like to read. They also give you examples of what not to do.

Exam-technique wise, this is the most useful and important resource you have. Utilise it. Be all fancy and print it off and highlight key points and make spider diagrams. Stick it on your fridge. Memorise it, then eat the paper – whatever! Just make sure, if you’re doing an essay subject, you walk into that exam knowing that, for the past five years in a row, examiners have given high marks to pupils who offer criticisms to viewpoints, or who relate to personal research.

Whilst we’re not 100% sure about the effectiveness of eating the paper, the rest of the advice is sound. Simply searching via a trusted search engine like Google for the WJEC GCSE English Language examiners’ report to find your target reading material as the first result, obviously substituting the name of the subject appropriately.

Remember, searching online is fraught with distractions and information from lots of well-meaning people. So why not take a look at the YouTube video below, made by exam markers who tell you what they’re looking for?

Past papers

You’re probably already familiar with using past papers as a revision technique in school. They are a great way to understand the typical type of questions that you are likely to face in your upcoming exams. Remember the old adage: ‘Practice makes perfect’.

Again, these can be found on the WJEC site using the same method as in the previous tip. Don’t forget to also check your answers against the marking schemes (or get someone else to mark your papers) to see areas where you may need more study or practice. Dmccririck from ‘The Student Room’ offers the following advice:

“Practice is key, so getting your hands on past paper questions and answers is very important. You’re able to make connections between different areas of the syllabus. This is very important when it comes to A / A* questions.

So put down those revision cards and mind-maps once you’ve learned them. There’s no point going over something a million times; you need to be able to apply it. At least two weeks before your exams, start concentrating on past papers. Do each one at least twice. With each one, trawl through the mark scheme and ensure you understand everything there. This gives you a better idea of how to think through an exam question.

I rarely just know the answer. In the harder questions, I have to think about it and work it out. That’s what you need to be able to do to get the high grades.

To cram or not to cram, that is the question. *Spoiler* the answer is not to cram…

Leaving things to the last minute and then trying to force information into your head is a surefire method that leads to stress. Using the last tip and chunking your material and tackling little pieces at a time will make your revision feel more manageable. By spreading your revision out, you leave yourself more time to practise and test what you’ve already learned.

Revise continually. Don’t leave it a few weeks before an exam. Revise the stuff you’re learning as you learn it.

Go home from school and make flashcards and posters and so on. That way, when you come to the exam period, you already know most of it and it’s just brushing up on the final details. Don’t frantically cram for an exam. There’s no point – it won’t go in.

Create a plan

Write everything you need down so that nothing gets forgotten and you have a solid platform to learn from. This is especially important when you are studying for multiple subjects. StrawberryJellyBaby from ‘The Student Room’ advises:

The best thing my mum ever did for me was make me set up a revision timetable. I wrote out every topic within every subject I needed to revise, then estimated how many sessions of 50 minutes I would need to revise that topic.

I then put this into a timetable so when it came down to revising I wouldn’t spend ages just flicking through any book finding something to revise, but would know exactly what area I was to cover in that time period.”

If you’re looking for advice on how to set up a study timetable, then StudentBoss has you covered with their YouTube video and links to timetable templates as well as a motivation sheet. Beyond The Blackboard also has you covered with a video to answer the age-old question ‘How much time should I spend on revision?’

Study smarter

Finally, a few videos to help you work smarter and deal with any exam anxiety you may have. AsapSCIENCE has you covered with their great video offering ‘The 9 BEST Scientific Study Tips’ whilst Greg and Mitch cover 7 Tips To Beat Exam Anxiety.