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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.

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 I’m not 100% sure about the effectiveness of eating the paper, the rest of the advice is sound.  Simply searching Google (other search engines are available!) for: 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 question 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.

This video by Primrose Kitten echoes this advice about using past exam papers to study.





Be Prepared

Not just the old Scouts motto, but don’t just assume that you have covered every area of your subject.  Britchich from ‘The Student Room’ advises:

If you're unsure what will come up in an exam, get a copy of the syllabus off the internet and literally tick off every single thing on the list.

Again, the exam board website is your friend.  Often I ask my students to colour code their copy of the specification: Red for topics that they really need to revise more, Orange for areas that they have some understanding of and Green for topics in which they know hands-down.  Obviously, the colour scheme is your choice, just keep it consistent across topics.


Make it more manageable

Often a 90-minute exam can be the culmination of two, or even three years’ work.  So you need to break things down into more manageable chunks – go for the win and make things easier on yourself!  Britchick again offers the following sound advice:

Break down your subject into ordered sections. Breaking down the exam into lots of little sections makes revision less daunting, and you'll know exactly where you stand in terms of how much you've done.

For my exams, I broke down a module into 20 sections or topics. It meant it didn't seem like much of a chore to start the next one, as they didn't last long. Then, before I knew it, I'd whizzed through the module without it being much work.

If you’re not sure how to achieve this effectively then watch this popular YouTube video from user Sprouts: 


To cram or not to cram, that is the question.  And the answer is NOT TO CRAM!

Leaving things to the last minute and then trying to force information into your head is a sure fire method that leads to stress.  By 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 flash cards 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 final details. Don't frantically cram for an exam. There's no point - it won't go in.
- DavidMRoper – ‘The Student Room’

Create a plan

“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail” — Benjamin Franklin

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 setup 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 thier great video offering ‘The 9 BEST Scientific Study Tips’, whilst Greg and Mitch cover 7 Tips To Beat Exam Anxiety



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