With exams fast approaching, this term is one of the most important, and it’s vital for you to get on top of your revision and workload as soon as possible. It might sound daunting, but here are some top tips to help you stay on track and hopefully have you celebrating in August.
You might think your exams are still ages away, but the first ones start on Friday 5 May... that's only 8 weeks! Start now and revise continuously over the next 8 weeks. This will help to keep your stress levels down when the exams actually start and will (hopefully) eliminate the need for cramming the night before.
Create a revision timetable
Sit down and plan your time out properly. Write down when your exams are and then timetable your time up until those dates. Start by making a note of your classes, any free periods you have during the day and any work commitments you have outside of college, before starting to plan in blocks of revision. Include every subject you have – not just your favourite ones - and make sure to plan in short breaks too; usually a ten minute break every 45 minutes to an hour is a good way to prevent procrastination and distractions.
Don’t try to set unreachable targets: it might look productive on paper to plan an 8-hour study session but it’s an easy way to burn yourself out and not actually revise much. Plan out shorter sessions of between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
If you’re going to be splitting your revision time between college and home maybe try using something like Google Docs to make your timetable, that way you can access it online from any device. Although, if you’re a more visual and perhaps creative person, you can always stick to just paper and pens. It’s completely up to you. The Student Room has an excellent free online revision timetable creator.
Find somewhere quiet to work
Revision works best when you’re working somewhere with no distractions – sure, revising with your friends in the Student Centre in your free period sounds like a good idea at first, but soon you’ll be doing anything but studying. Find somewhere where you can be alone for a few hours, whether that’s at home, at college or even somewhere like a coffee shop.
Turn off any distractions
Hide your mobile phone somewhere you can’t easily reach it, whether that’s in a different room or in your bag. If it’s in your bag, turn it off. That way you won’t be tempted to check your notifications and end up doing something completely unrelated to your exams. Likewise, don't study with the TV on in the background.
Find the methods that work best for you
Everyone’s different and everyone revises differently. Just because your friend has made a mind map of their entire Biology syllabus the size of their bedroom wall doesn’t mean that you have to. Try out different methods and see which you prefer. Different methods may work better for different subjects too.
Set study goals
Before you start, decide what it is you want to achieve from the revision session. Breaking your revision down into smaller chunks will make it seem more manageable and it won’t feel as though you’re trying to do too much all at once. You’ll also be more focused on what it is you’re actually trying to revise.
Study out and about
Revision cards (also known as Flashcards) are an easy way to take your revision on the go. Keep them in your bag so that whenever you have any spare time - such as when you're stuck in a long queue or on the bus to and from college - you can get them out and brush up on some key revision points.
Do plenty of past papers
These are a great way to revise as you not only learn your subject whilst doing them but also the exam technique. Familiarise yourself with how the exam boards lay out their papers - these will be different across the different exam boards and even different subjects within the same exam board.
Check out the mark schemes and examiners reports too. These give you an insight into how the examiners mark your papers and what it is they're looking for. The report also gives you examples of what not to do when it comes to exam techniques and can really help.
* It may be harder to find past papers for new linear A Levels, ask your teacher for help if this applies to you.
Don't overdo it
It can be tempting to spend all of your free time revising but it's important to look after yourself at the same time. Make sure you get enough sleep - at least 8 hours a night - and eat well across the revision and exam periods.
Take some time off from revision too - it's okay to want to spend a Sunday out with your friends, or to go and see that new film one evening instead of pouring over your notes. Just be sure to plan this into your revision timetable and make sure you don't compromise your study time by doing this too often. You'll have the whole summer to be out and about enjoying yourselves once the exams are over!
If you have any revision tips you'd like to share, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @ItchenCollege.