With the key revision period of the Easter holidays nearly over, lots of students still have significant chunks of the syllabus to revise and are starting to worry that they won’t have enough time to prepare fully for their GCSE / A Level exams. Furthermore, many will have to learn new material when they return to school after the Easter break due to the new extended syllabus needing more teaching time, making the revision challenge even tougher.
During a time of such intense exam pressure, many students try cramming, studying for 12 hours a day. For others, feelings of stress and panic can become overwhelming and affect their ability to concentrate during revision sessions. As neither situation is healthy, sustainable nor productive, we have some advice on how to improve concentration and make study sessions more effective. Remember, your focus shouldn’t be on HOW LONG you study but on HOW WELL you study!
Here are our top 5 tips on revising after the Easter Holidays
1. Re-assess progress before going back to school. For students using a revision timetable, this should be relatively straightforward as you can use your timetable to check that you are on track and identify topics/subjects that need more time or where help is required. If you are unsure or haven’t used a timetable, list out the topics you have covered, together with some indication of confidence level for each topic, and compare this against the subject specification or text book. When you are back at school, go and discuss your progress and any concerns with your teacher – most are very happy to help their students in the run up to exams – try asking them for help in prioritising areas/revision. Read our article on why a revision timetable is critical to exam success and How to Create A Revision Timetable That Works.
2. Prioritise core topics and material. If you are running out of time to cover the whole syllabus, focus initially on the most important topics and core material rather than elaborative material. Core material consists of important principles, theorems, formulae, important diagrams and graphs, whereas elaborative material consists of examples, quotes, illustrations etc. Whilst the latter is needed to score top marks, a high proportion of exam marks normally come from the core material so it’s worth prioritising important topics and core material first.
3. Focus on revision productivity. If you are struggling to concentrate try:
- splitting revision into smaller/manageable chunks with regular short breaks
- changing your revision environment – make it more conducive to revision eg plenty of space, peace and quiet with no distractions, well ventilated with good natural light.
- Ban phones/social media during the day, leaving it until the end of the revision to catch up with friends.
- including as much variety in the day as possible eg mixing up the nature of subjects studied, trying different revision and learning techniques, studying with friends or attending revision courses
- making your revision as active and goal oriented as possible eg flashcards, mnemonics, online tests and quizzes. Setting simple goals before each session can be motivational and helpful, giving focus and impetus to revision
4. Look after yourself, both mentally and physically. As it gets closer to exam day, stress and fatigue can grow. Get enough rest (at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night), eat regularly and healthily (don’t overload on junk food or caffeine while you’re studying), take proper breaks after revising to relax and exercise. If you are feeling stressed out, visualizing success and relaxation techniques can really help (e.g. imagine yourself writing a good essay).
5. Never give up! Let’s face it, exams are tougher than ever these days and it can be easy to start feeling despondent and thinking what’s the point! This is time to go and talk to a parent or teacher about how you are feeling and maybe try something different to give yourself a confidence boost. Revision Courses are an excellent option and a few providers, including Justin Craig, also offer revision courses in May and June. These are ideal for all types of students who feel they need a little extra support in the run up to their exams and can make a massive difference to student confidence, motivation, knowledge and expertise. Find out more by reading our article on “Is an Revision Course Right for You”.