The time to panic is over. Use these 12 easy steps to revise your way to As across the board. Tackle one step at a time before handling the next, and you’ll be a success in no time!
1. Stay calm
The thought of failing and resitting exams is unpleasant, so try not to dwell on it. Whatever happens will happen, and it’s not the end of the world if you do fail/get a poor grade. This time next month it will probably all be over, so take a deep breath and relax. Getting stressed out never helps matters.
2. Calm environment
Some people can revise with distractions around, but most need a calm, quiet place to work. Switch off the television, internet, hide your mobile phone and mp3 player, and get away from the usual chaos. If you have children, ask a family member, friend or relative to babysit so you can have time alone. If this is not possible, put the children down for nap while you revise. If your children can read, they could help you revise by testing you. Do whatever you can to create a clam, stress free environment during such an important time.
3. Condense information
In textbooks a lot of the information is just filler. Highlight the key words, phrases, formulae, names, places, etc. Looking over a few pages is much easier than staring at a thick textbook for hours. Your teacher should clarify the most important parts of each topic in revision classes, but if not then ask them yourself.
4. Thorough revision
Anything you skip while revising will probably turn up in the exam paper, so do not skip over anything because it is ‘too hard’ or assume you know it already. Even if you don’t want to go over that topic again in great detail, at least read through it again. After you have worked through every topic, start from the beginning. Reading through once is not the best idea, so go through everything as many times as you possibly can. Soon you’ll find that you almost know everything off by heart, and then you will be able to recite it all.
Always plan before you start revising. Make sure you have the best textbooks for your course. Organise the information into different categories, groups and difficulty. Every time you complete a topic you find difficult, move on to a topic you find easy. This makes the learning process easier to handle because focusing on hard topics all the time will just depress you. Doing easier topics gives you a buzz that carries over to harder sections, which makes them appear more doable.
6. Take it easy
ALWAYS include breaks when revising. There is no point in revising for eight hours straight because after a certain point your brain will switch off, and from then the information goes in one ear and out the other. After breaks you feels refreshed like you do at the start of a revision session. Also, breaks mean you can have fun while revising e.g. watch your favourite TV show in that half an hour to yourself. Revision can get boring, so treat yourself!
7. Interesting revision
Staring at sheets upon sheets of facts, figures, critics and more will not motivate you learn them off by heart. Use coloured paper, sticky notes, tape recorders, and cards to spice up revision. Even better, create your own worksheets. This could involve matching up different information, wordsearches with critical terms you must learn, crosswords, and any other ways to memorise information in a way that’s not monotone.
8. Share the load
Some teachers allocate a weekly topic to a group who must present their findings to the rest of the class. This shows how separating topics between a group can help revision. There may be a topic you don’t understand but someone else in the group does, so they could explain the topic to you in a way the teacher did not. A group format alongside individual sessions also breaks up the monotony of revising alone in a room, but don’t distract each other! If you end up laughing and joking the entire time without learning a thing, find other people to revise with or revise alone.
9. Last minute revision
When you have exams, essays, lectures, and seminars it can be hard to fit revision into your schedule. However, this is no excuse to leave revision until the last moment. The longer you put revision off the harder it will be. Even though you probably have a lot of information to process and memorise, remember that it is far easier to do so when you have months or weeks, not day or hours. The stress caused by ‘cramming’ ruins revision, meaning you are less likely to retain the information when it’s most important- in the exam!
10. Practise papers
If the teacher did not give you any past papers go to the exam board’s website and print some off. Remember to get the answers as well. Attempt questions, preferably under the exam’s time limit, and check the answers at the end. Do not be alarmed if you can’t do particular questions. Just keep practising until you get the right answer, and note down that you need to spend extra time on that particular topic. If you keep getting stuck on a topic, ask your teacher for help
11. Any questions?
Throughout the course you should be noting down anything you are unsure about. If you forgot to ask the teacher for clarification and/or revision has revealed other topics you are unsure about, now is the time to get help. Remember, no question is stupid. Not asking and going into an exam confused is stupid.
12. Sleep tight
The day before the exam, look through every topic a few more times. Finish early, put your books away and relax. Do anything you want to release any tension or nerves, but be sensible e.g. no drinking or anything that will have a negative impact on you tomorrow. Go to bed early and get as much sleep as possible.
At this point you’ve done all you can. Whatever will be will be. As long as you’ve tried your best, which you have by doing these 12 steps, you can hold your head high and accept any result with pride. When the time comes, read this to be ready for anything the exam throws at you. Good luck!