Dear GCSE/AP/IGCSE /SAT/IB Candidate – Just Ace That Exam . . . but how?
Just remember: Exams are important – but they are not the only key to a successful future.
The exam season is within us.
As preparations are underway, I felt going through these HIGHLY REGARDED REVISION TECHNIQUES YOU WILL NEVER FORGET, will steady the ship in the stormy waters in your quest to attaining your very best. Please . . .
- Don’t leave revision to the last minute.
- Don’t avoid revising subjects you don’t like or find difficult.
- Don’t cram ALL night before an exam.
- Don’t study when you’re really tired. It’s better to get a solid night’s sleep after a short study period, than to push on until 2am. You won’t remember much and will be less effective the next day.
- Don’t forget that there is life beyond revision and exams.
- Identify what distracts you. Is it social media, television, email, phone or family?
- Once you’ve identified distractions, take steps to consciously block them out.
- Turn off your phone and leave it in another room, close email and social media.
- Hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door; put on ear phones and listen to some ambient sound to shut out external noise or conversation.
- It’s important to do this actively; distractions won’t go away, so it’s important to learn how to shut them out.
- Reward yourself when the work is finished – but only if you’ve remained focused and used the time well.
ONCE these are observed, it is time to:
Lay Out The Study Plan
- Have your own revision timetable – start planning well before exams begin.
- Start doing more revision about four weeks before your exams.
- Make your books, notes and essays user-friendly.
- Use headings, highlighting and revision cards, and get tips on other revision techniques from teachers and friends with experience of exams.
- You could also consider buying revision guides.
How & Where Can You Study?
- Everyone revises differently. Work out when you can study most effectively.
- Are you more alert in the morning or evening?
- When in your day can you find quiet time and space?
- Schedule study times that suit your personal rhythms.
- Do you prefer longer sessions; with music or without noise?
- Set study periods. Don’t study for longer than 50 minutes without taking a break. It is better to study for a short intense period of time with sustained concentration than long periods of time when you are tired and not engaging well with the material
- ‘Chunk’ information. Don’t try to study the entire course in one sitting. Divide the subject up into topics and aim to study a ‘chunk’ at each study session.
Set Study Goals
- Set yourself a goal for each study session to help you keep track of what you are revising.
- Write them down as soon as you begin your study session, or set them at the end of the study session for next time:
- I will read through and summarise chapters . . .
- I will work through two past paper questions on . . .
- I will learn the main concepts that were discussed in . . .
Sort Out What You Don’t Understand
- Clarify the meaning of any words or concepts you don’t understand before trying to study them.
- If you aren’t clear about what that information means, memorising it won’t help.
- Prioritise the hardest subjects first in each study session.
- Allocate more time to studying the subjects you find most difficult.
Rewrite Your Notes
- Rewriting your notes helps you to remember them. Don’t just copy out your original notes—you’ll end up simply memorizing the exact wording instead of the actual concepts.
- The key is to read and think about the contents of your notes, what you noted down and why (in what way, it is important), how to express it most efficiently and memorably, and then re-write them in your own words.
- When you finish studying a section of notes, ask yourself questions relating to the material to see if you remembered what you just read.
- It can also help to answer your questions out loud as if you were talking to someone.
- Take notes of the important points when revising.
- Try to answer the questions of past exam papers.
- Explain answers to tricky questions to someone else.
Review Past Exam Papers
- Review any previous exam papers for your course
- Work through past papers. Note the trend on how questions are asked.
- Look at the wording of the questions and familiarise yourself with the clue words.
- Practice doing the papers under exam conditions and carefully review your answers.
Help At Hand: Please ASK
- Ask for help from your teacher/learning mentor, parent or a friend if there are things you don’t understand
- Don’t cram the night before—it’s ineffective because you’re taking in so much information at once that it’s impossible to memorise it all. You’ll hardly retain anything and will be tired and stressed when the time comes to actually sit the exam.
Form A Study Group
- Form a study group with other students.
- Swap practice exams and give feedback.
- Drill each other on study topics.
- Remember it’s important to eat and sleep well.
- Put yourself first – this is an important time for you. Try to talk to your family about how:
- they can make studying a little easier for you.
- For example, by agreeing times when you can have your own space, when they will try to be a little quieter around the house and when you’d rather not be disturbed (except perhaps for the occasional treat, such as a drink or snack).
- Don’t revise all the time: Make sure you give yourself time each day to relax, taking breaks to do something you enjoy – watch TV, listen to music, read a book or go out for a walk.
Revising To Remember: Use The SQ3R Method Of Study
Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review
SURVEY: Before you begin to study, survey the material to get a quick overview. Skim through your notes to get a picture of the main ideas. If studying from a book, look at tables of contents, possible chapter summaries, graphs and tables.
QUESTION: Your reading is more active and memorable if you look for specific answers to questions. If there are headings in the material turn the heading into a question. For example, if the heading is Organisational Theory, your questions might be: ‘What is organisational theory and where did it start?’
READ: Read through the material once, without making notes. On your second reading, make notes of the main ideas. Try to use your own words.
RECALL: Close the book/ cover your notes. Try to recall what you have read. Make notes of what you remember then check their accuracy against your study material.
- Review all your notes at the end of the study period. This is an important part of the study process because it can really help you remember what you have studied.
- Try summarising your notes down to key words that will act as memory triggers for related ideas.
- Try to tackle past exam questions if they are there
- Set review times separately from your study times.
- Read through your review notes, cover them and then recite them.
- Check the originals for accuracy.
Prepare For The Big Day
- Have a good breakfast, if you can.
- Make sure you know where the exam is being held and what time it starts. Give yourself plenty of time to get there.
- Take all the equipment you need for each exam, including extra pens and pencils.
- Take in a bottle of water and tissues.
- Go to the loo beforehand!
- If you feel really anxious, breathe slowly and deeply while waiting for the exam to start.
Pace Yourself In The Exam Hall
- Remember to write your name on the exam paper. You would not believe how many people have forgotten to do it!
- Read the instructions before starting the exam.
- Ask the exam supervisor if anything is unclear.
- Read through all the questions before starting writing, and make sure you are clear how many questions you are required to answer.
- If there is a choice, start by answering the question you feel you can answer best.
- If you are stuck on a question, go on to the next. You can always come back to it later. If you are really stuck, try to have an intelligent guess anyway.
- Leave time to read through and check your answers before the exam finishes.
- Plan how much time you’ll need for each question.
Perform As Well As You Can
- Knowing that you’ve done your best may help you overcome feelings of letting anyone down.
- Don’t go through the answers afterwards with your friends if it is only going to make you more worried.
- Try to put the last exam out of your mind and look ahead to the next one. You can’t go back and change things.
You’re you, so you can only do the best you can on the day.
Good luck in all your endeavours.