Ways to Revise and Exam Tips

We are all different, and different people have different ways of revising. However, sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what the best revision technique for us is,  and below are some suggestions of what you can try. The most effective revision however is usually active learning, and not passive i.e. not just reading through your notes. Reading through your notes should just be something that you do regularly once you’ve started your course to make sure that you stay on top of what you are learning in lessons and that you understand the material being taught; for serious revision it just wastes time.

1. Writing out your own notes:

If you can summarise the chunks of text from your class notes and textbook, that’s a good start. Once you have made your own notes, you could try to condense them even more and put them onto small prompt cards. Then you can look at the key words on the cards and mentally go through everything that you know about it.

2. Group revision sessions:

Some people find this helpful, others don’t. It can be helpful as your friends can explain things to you that you don’t understand and vice versa, similarly, you can test each other, and this makes revision more fun and involved than doing it by yourself. However, try to stick to the subject and don’t get distracted and start talking about other things. You can start a small group at school or college and meet each week at a certain time, electing one member of the group to explain one topic each week and then everyone asks questions etc.

3. Practice answering questions:

Doing past papers is always a great way to revise because you get a flavour of what it will be like in the exam, I talk more about this in: https://lostling.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/how-to-revise-for-your-exams/

4. Singing:

What?? Yes, I’m being serious, sometimes I find it really helps to make up your own song to memorise facts or long lists of things for example, the location of the different mountain ranges and rivers in the UK. You can sing the song wherever you are…

5. Post-it notes:

Write the main points such as physics equations or key words and stick them around the house, so when you wake up you get a quick reminder of the main points.

6. Teaching someone else:

If you can successfully teach a topic to someone else, you know your stuff and it really gets your brain working when you have to process the information that you have learnt and regurgitate it in a way that someone else can understand. Often you’ll find that they will ask a lot of questions that you might not have considered before and this experience can teach you a lot.

7. Mind maps/spider diagrams:

These can be as simple or as complicated as you want, what it does is visually map the key areas of a topic. Personally I don’t find these incredibly helpful, but I do find them useful when planning essays etc.

8. Revising whilst standing up:

Sitting down for lengthy periods of time isn’t always the best way to revise. Moving around and being active gets the blood circulating and brings oxygen to your brain cells.

During the exam:

1. Read the question carefully.

It’s a good idea to underline or circle the key words in the question to make sure you know exactly what the examiner is asking, look carefully at any sets of data that they give you especially the units in graphs and tables as sometimes they can catch you out e.g. by putting kW instead of W.

2. Look out for the command words and the number of marks allocated.

The command words really mean different things:

  • Describe: say what you see, not why.
  • Explain: give reasons for your answer.
  • Suggest: you probably won’t have learnt specifically about this but can use your knowledge to come up with a sensible answer.
  • Calculate: numerical working out.

For each mark available, try to make a relevant point using the correct terminology. Also be mindful of the space provided to stop yourself from writing too much.

3. Do the questions you can, if you’re stuck then move on.

Time is really precious during an exam, so that means you don’t have to answer the questions in order, do the ones that you can first, and if you get really stuck on one, move on and come back to it at the end.

4. Always show your working.

This refers to questions that require calculations. This way if you get the wrong final answer, you might still be awarded marks from your working and get error carried forward marks too. Be mindful of any units that you need to use, and the number of significant figures that they want you to round to.

5. If you have time to spare, check through your answers.

Don’t sit around staring at the clock, check through your answers by covering up what you have written and answering it again in your head, then check to see if your answers match.

Hopefully, that’s been helpful to you.

Good luck with all your preparation and in your exams!

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