Easter Revision Tips
Your A Level exams are on the horizon, and the time for revision has come. These are the exams that you’ve spent your school life working towards, so it’s common to feel nervous. Don’t panic! We’ve come up with some tips and tricks to help you out.
Choose the right environment.
Find somewhere quiet, put your phone on silent, and stay away from the TV. Be realistic about group revision. It can be useful to study with motivated people because you can teach and test each other. But, if your friends are loud, you might get distracted.
Break things down into smaller, more manageable, chunks.
If your textbook has 12 chapters, treat each as an individual task. Instead of panicking that you need to memorise the entire book, methodically tackle one chapter at a time. This feels a lot less overwhelming, and it’s easier to keep track of your progress.
Tailor your revision to the subject. Languages are best practiced by using them practically, whereas History requires a lot of memorisation.
Balance your time between your subjects and consider when each exam is.
For example, it’s quite possible that you’ll be tested on English Literature a month earlier than Maths. In this case it would make sense to focus more on English at the start of the revision period.
Make concise notes.
Rewriting your textbook will make your arm hurt but doesn’t make you think. Shorter notes are easier to reread and deciding what information to include helps you identify the most important points. A good way to do this is to make a ‘cheat sheet’ for each topic. Write out a small card of points that you’d like to be able to take into the exam with you – this is what you should memorise.
Download these notes onto your phone or carry around flashcards and read them in spare minutes.
I used to go through them on the bus and the train. It can also be helpful to look at other people’s notes – the student room has a good selection. Likewise, YouTube has a lot of great resources. I liked to put these on while I was cooking dinner.
For many people, things like song and rhyme help words stick in your head; think how well you can remember lyrics. My Physics teacher showed us a song about the order of the electromagnetic spectrum when I was 15, I am now 23 and I remember the entire thing.
Consistently review what you’ve revised.
Everyone forgets things, and just because you understand everything now doesn’t mean you will in a month. Remember, it’s easier to remind yourself of something than it is to learn something completely new. Don’t give your brain time to forget something completely. You’ll have to learn it again.
Make posters with your notes and put them in easily visible locations around your house, like next to your bed and in the bathroom.
Try to teach a topic to someone.
If you can’t explain the topic clearly enough for them to understand it, you don’t know it properly.
Look over mark schemes and do practice papers
This advice is generic, but important. You’ll learn what the examiner is looking for. You can even predict some questions that aren’t going to come up – if in the past two years the same question has come up, it’s very unlikely they’ll ask it this year.
When you’re under pressure, self-care becomes even more important. Keep on top of stress by taking breaks, getting enough sleep, eating healthily and drinking water. Make sure you don’t isolate yourself; you still need some human contact. You should take a short break every hour, and take a bit of time off for lunch and in the evening. Don’t use this as a justification to procrastinate! You don’t need to spend an hour relaxing after 10 minutes of study.
Finally, remember that you always have the option to resit your exams. This obviously isn’t ideal, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do as well as you hoped.
- By Philippa Coster
Thu 29 Mar 2018