Exam time is here once again and that means plenty of hours spent at home, at the library, or wherever you like to work, getting down to revision.
Childline has produced a leaflet, 'Beat Exam Stress' which you might find useful. Also, here are some top revision tips for GCSE and A-Level students:
Divide up your day
Make a revision timetable. Without a timetable you’ll revise some stuff a lot, miss out other bits and have a mad rush at the end. Put all the non-revision stuff on your timetable first (school, sleep, clubs, exams etc.), then split up the remaining bits of each day into 1 – 1 ½ hour revision chunks. Plan to revise a different subject in each chunk and aim for two chunks each evening.
Make your timetable more specific than just English or Maths. Break it down into really specific topics. Do 20 minute bursts of revision then go for a 5 minute walk or listen to a song for a break, then get back to it! Get together with friends and share revision.
You have to make a start at some point and doing it sooner rather than later is a very good idea. Try to stick to your revision schedule and start revising in the morning - research shows that you are more likely to do all the planned work if you start early, because as it gets closer to the evening, there is bigger tendency to get outside.
Know what you're being tested on
Make sure you know what exam board your course is from. Go to the exam board website, find your course and print off the exam specification. Read through it ticking off the topics you're happy with, and revising the problem spots. Once you're happy with the syllabus, go through a practice paper you've done with the mark scheme for that paper. This helps you understand how examiners award points in the exam. Do as many practice papers as you possibly can.
You can find a list of the exam boards Fortismere uses for each subject here.
Don't try to learn everything
And don't try to swamp yourself with knowledge while revising. It's far more important to be comfortable with the concepts of metaphor and simile, for example, than it is for you to know the exact date when Shelley wrote Ozymandias.
Get your class notes, text books and revision guides out in front of you and combine them together so you have one good set of detailed notes to work from. Remember to check the specification for your exam first as well. There may be more information in your textbooks than you need, so don’t make the mistake of revising extra details that won’t appear in your exam.
Remember too, there isn’t just one way to revise; people love to revise in different ways. Drawing pictures might help. Other people might find the traffic light system useful (using different coloured highlighters to underline text according to how important it is), or developing posters, mind-maps, lists – whatever suits their learning style.
Making notes is by far the best way to memorise lots of information. We all have been there, sat down reading a textbook and lying to ourselves that the time is being used productively - it is not! The best way to memorise information is by making notes over and over again. It may be incredibly tedious but the thing is that the most successful candidates often make as many as three sets of the same notes in a run up to the exams which help them to memorise the required information.
Physical activity is very important, in particular during intense study time. Even going for a small 30-minute jog after a day of revision will make a huge difference to your wellbeing. Physical activity increases heart rate which makes the blood circulate faster. This in turn ensures that brain gets more oxygen which increases productivity whilst reducing tiredness and stress. Make sure you eat regular healthy meals and drink lots of water.
It is not all about the work; you need good breaks too. People who manage to find the right balance between study and leisure are the ones who get the top marks. For instance go to a cinema with friends after a productive day of revision or treat yourself to something sweet.
At the end of the day, it's not all about studying. There are plenty of people who did well in life without 100 per cent in every single exam, or who were actually pretty useless at school and university. Your life isn't over if you don't ace the exams, so take the pressure off yourself..
Following these tips you will get loads of work done, feel great about yourself and still have plenty of time to relax with your friends and family. Good luck, now get down to those notes!