ASCL gives top tips for exam revision season

20 April 2015

As thousands of young people prepare to sit exams this summer, Cherry Ridgway, Curriculum and Assessment Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, has written a 10-point guide to help students prepare:

  1. If you have not done so already, make sure you prepare an exam revision timetable. Plan short spells of revision, about 30 minutes to an hour at a time, as this is the most effective way to learn. Your concentration lapses after about an hour and you need to take a short break of about ten minutes.

  2. When you prepare your revision timetable, make sure you plot in your school timetable, your exam dates, and the things you don’t want to miss out on. Let’s face it, you will still want to see that Saturday football match or go to your friend’s birthday party. Make it part of your planning.

  3. There are some good resources which will help you plan your timetable, such as phone apps like Class Timetable and Exam Countdown, and the Revision World website, which also has lots of other useful advice.

  4. Build reward time into your timetable. For instance, a full day of revision could equal a trip to the cinema.

  5. Don’t spend ages making the timetable, or your revision notes, look pretty. Exam timetables are great as long as they don’t become a revision avoidance technique.

  6. Find somewhere quiet to revise – your bedroom, school, your gran’s house – and refuse to be interrupted and distracted.

  7. Don’t revise in front of the television, or while listening to the radio. Sit at a proper table or desk if you can. Bed isn’t a great place to revise as snoozing is far too tempting.

  8. Always start by revising the most difficult topics while you are fresh rather than using your best concentration on the more straightforward ones.

  9. Do mix up how you approach revision by trying different techniques. Try some of these:

    • Make your own learning mind maps – either on paper or use something like iMindMap or Popplet apps.

    • Make flash cards. Write the facts on one side and some questions on the other and then test yourself. Try apps like Flashcards+ and StudyBlue.

    • Make your own revision notes, either on paper or using one of the many notes apps.

    • Make electronic or paper Post-it notes for key things you keep forgetting and put them where you will see them – on your tablet, PC, mirror, phone etc.

    • Read your revision notes out loud. We remember more than twice as much when we read aloud compared to when we read silently.

    • Practise on past exam papers and revision tests. There are lots available on the web. Initially, do one section at a time - and progress to doing the entire paper against the clock.

    • Use revision guides.

    • Note down things you still don’t understand so that you can ask your teachers to talk you through them. Never be embarrassed to ask.

  10. Stay in good health. Eat a balanced diet, exercise (it keeps your brain active) and get enough sleep. And finally, good luck!