GCSE Revision TipsSee All Uni Advice Articles
Easter holidays during school may feel like a well-earned break full of chocolate and sleeping, and although students deserve to take a rest from studying, those that are taking their GCSE’s will be tormented by the revision timetable stuck on their bedroom wall.
Turn off your mobile phone, iPod, Spotify account, forget the Spotify student discount and laptop when studying. One of the most successful ways to avoid distractions when studying is to study in a different room, or away from technological devices that can claim your attention. Don’t be tempted to reply to text messages that aren’t important or urgent, or to check Facebook every twenty minutes. So stop procrastinating during revision and jump right in! And there are lots of different forms of procrastination.
Create a schedule
Creating a revision timetable and a revision guide is a great way to ensure you stick to your studies. Students can work out what subjects need the most attention and correspond revision with exam timetable – allowing them to feel prepared for each exam when it takes place. Also, it will give them the idea of how much free time they have, be able to set up a routine and to stay on course with their revision, you can also try and hone some new revision techniques and look up some revision tips, too.
Students who are revising during the Easter Holidays or study leave should incorporate a healthy timetable. Studying for more than 45 minutes at a time isn’t healthy for the brain and may even be detrimental or wasteful to their studying than do good. The brain needs regular breaks to store all of the information taken in during studying. Students should study a subject for 45 minutes or less, and take a regular short break after each session. This time allows the brain to focus on other activities while storing the information recently read or written.
This also makes it easier to handle, as students will be more likely to study and will not feel overwhelmed by work and give up altogether.
Become an early bird
Students should start their revision days early for several reasons, mostly as it will form a good habit when exam season starts, or otherwise waking up for those 9am exams will be nearly impossible. It also means that students can get their revision done throughout the day to allow themselves to finish earlier and given them the chance to enjoy their evenings with well-earned relaxing and socialising time.
Take a power-nap
Waking up in the morning also wakes up your mind and body, giving yourself enough time to be prepared for the day and to feel refreshed throughout. However, if students struggle to wake up, or find that they are tired after lunchtime, this is perfectly normal too. The human body was designed for two short sleep cycles throughout the day, but our cultures with events and work happening during the day, and sleeping at night, only allows us one. Students may feel tired during their revision day, especially if they have been working their brain for hours and hours and trying to cram in enough information on a subject!
Therefore, scheduling or taking a spontaneous power-nap will help individuals rest from their tough day, and allow their brain to store the information they have just learned – which happens every time we sleep. However, don’t let yourself fall into a mini-sleep or nap for longer than two hours at most as you might wake feeling groggy and disorientated. 20-45 minutes is the ideal amount of time to nap and wake up feeling refreshed.
If students are taking naps but can’t seem to wake up properly, or fall into a deep sleep and arise hours later, then it might be due to them not getting enough sleep at night, and they should alter their nightly sleep pattern to accommodate this. Otherwise, they will end up sleeping through their entire study leave!
There are so many great foods out there to help the brain focus. Energy foods, such as oranges, bananas, nuts, whole grains and tomatoes will feed your body energy throughout the day to allow you to keep going, and give your brain a big boost when you begin to feel drained. You need to eat healthy as a student!
Try to avoid sugary snacks or junk food as this will alter your blood sugar levels too quickly and you will feel a low too soon and too heavily that can alter your attention. Eating a healthy diet will sustain your ability to revise most of the day, whereas eating bad food tricks your body into believing it is receiving energy and processes it too quickly and then your body is left feeling low again.
Learn from past exam papers
Download and obtain as many past papers as you can for all of your subjects, either from your school or college, or from the examining board’s website – AQA, Pearson and WJEC have loads of past papers on their websites that are easy to download and print out. Use this at the final step of your revision, to test whether you can perform under exam conditions and work efficiently under a set time.
Ensure you are strict on yourself when working on past exam papers, don’t allow any distractions, work under pressure and don’t let yourself check your notes when answering the questions. Preparing yourself for the exam is a great way to learn how to successfully transfer the information that you have stored in your head, and practically put it onto paper.
Ask a friend or family member to mark it – most exam boards also supply the marking scheme alongside the paper – and tell them to be brutally honest. You need to see what areas you need to work on, and what areas you did well on to progress in your last stages of revision.
Mnemonics are a great way to help you recite lists, names and words for most subjects. There are common examples such as colours of the rainbow, listing the planets of the solar system, or even the wives of King Henry VIII.
If we take the colours of the rainbow mnemonic: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, which translates to; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.
Other useful tips to get creative with revision is to use repetition, or to group words or items in threes as the brain finds it easier to digest groups of three than any other number! Or maybe even alter the lyrics of one your favourite songs to sing about the periodic table! Your brain will adjust to storing this information, and you’re more likely to remember it. Although, you can’t turn every page of your notes into a song as it will overload your brain!
Revise with friends
Revising similar subjects with like-minded individuals will help you bounce ideas off each other and to study successfully. If you are struggling with a difficult concept, having someone else explain in a different way can help you make sense of it! Also, you can meet up with your friends even if they are revising a different subject, as you can take it in turns to explain to each other something that you’re revising. Using your skills and information you have learned, you can try to summarise or teach them something from your subject that they have no idea about, especially if they ask questions because then you will see if you truly understand the subject or not! Although your revision expectations for revision can differ from reality.
Don’t start too late
One of the worst things you can do is to start revising late when it comes to GCSE revision. There will never be a time where revising early will be as detrimental as starting too late. You may not have the time to cover all of the areas that you need to or to realise what areas you need the extra help. You could end up cutting out time to complete practice papers, or not being able to delegate enough time to each demanding subject.
If you decide to begin revising early, or before your friends or teachers suggest – that is okay! You won’t need to be as strict with yourself if you wish to start revising softly, but it will only help you remember the information when you revisit it later, as discussed above, the brain loves repetition!
Attend those extra lessons at school
But only if you truly need it! Attending workshops or extra revision lessons at school can be helpful if you find it hard to revise as successfully at home, or if you have a few questions you want to ask someone in person. However, if the workshops are only brief revision sessions, or briefly cover the entire subject in a couple of hours, you might not find that helpful to you. Only you know the areas that you find difficult to understand, or that you find daunting, so wasting hours studying an area that you are more than capable of comprehending may just end up wasting valuable time you could spend on a different subject and that can help you settle into student life!
Using visual aids during revision will help your brain learn the information in a different way and create new pathways in the brain. If you have a lot of information to remember, or a timeline you want to be able to recite, use a spider diagram or learning map/aid to jot everything down.
A great way is to repetitively attempt to draw the map/aid from memory once or twice a week. The more often that you do something will make it easier to remember in the long run, and your brain will remember more information each time. Then when you enter the exam, you can write down the map or aid from memory from a side piece of paper – which you can ask from the invigilators/teachers – and then you’ll only have to look back to your map in the exam for the information, just make sure you’re prepared for results day!
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