Revision can be a challenging task, one which is rarely taught in schools. The literal meaning of the word is ‘to look at again’. Revision is an important study skill, one that will be revisited at College and University levels. In the article below, Karen Ormerod, Company Director, draws from her experience of working with neurodiverse students to develop this key area in the run-up to exam season.
Top Tips for Exam Revision
In my opinion, everything that I have taught students with any neurodiversity has always been beneficial for every student. Teenagers need to learn how to be organised, both time-wise and study-wise, especially at a time when the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that plans, thinks, and organises) is under development. This needs specific teaching, and schools have little time to do this.
For many students, getting started can be the biggest challenge. This is why making a plan and then getting on with that plan are key elements of learning how to revise.
Make a revision plan
Designing a revision plan that takes account of the areas or subjects that need more attention is a smart move. A fortnightly plan can be adjusted and tweaked to suit and, coupled with a realistic idea about when it is possible to study is a great start. Planners can be placed in a bedroom so that it is visible and shared with your family.
Create a quiet, tidy space
Many studies have found that the environment can have a positive effect on thinking and mood. Being in the right frame of mind by having a clear and quiet area to study is part of a good study habit.
Phones and social media can interrupt a chain of thought and waste time that can otherwise be devoted to studying. Phones need to be switched off/ put on silent and away from the workspace. Uninterrupted revision will aid memory.
Be organised with revision
Ahead of beginning a revision plan, equipment, books, stationery etc should all be ready and organised for the revision time. Revision works well in short bursts and getting equipment will eat into the time to revise.
Time of day
Figuring out whether the revision is done best first thing in the morning or late at night can be helpful in planning time for the best possible learning.
Revise in short bursts
Students need only revise for 20 mins up to year 8 and 30 mins if older. Revision is a lot easier if there is something nice to do during a break. That might be getting a snack or a drink, playing with a dog, taking a short walk or doing a few star jumps or reps in the garden. Plan these into the day.
Be aware of learning preferences
Knowing how best one remembers is a helpful tool. Here are a few different ways that people may like to revise:
- Making a mindmap
- Drawing a diagram
- Making a cartoon
- Spider diagram
- Listening to audio
- Visiting multimedia sites (BBC bitesize)
- Use your phone to read to you if you don’t like reading
- Review visually appealing content (Oaka books are great for this)
- Making flashcards and testing yourself
- Do a quiz on a topic
- Making lists/ writing things out
- Use apps (Again BBC bitesize has this for GCSE)
- Revise with a friend- teaching someone else content is mastery!
Above all, content has to be revisited a number of times- there is an 80 % increase in retention when content is revisited 4 times.
Look at past papers
Past papers are important for familiarising students with question types and they can also shine a light on areas to develop for further study. They shouldn’t form the whole part of a revision plan, however, they should feature there regularly. Exam boards usually have past papers on their sites eg: AQA past papers.
Would you rather tidy your sock drawer?
Finally, there are times when tidying the sock drawer becomes way more appealing than revision. This is where discipline, determination and mental strength to carry out your plan will be needed. Self-belief and sticking to the plan will be key.
I wish everyone, including all the students we have helped this year the very best of luck with revision and exams in 2022.
Company Director and Educational Consultant at Elite Tutors Sussex