At UK Distance Learning we love to help our students, and one question we always get asked is: ‘what is the best way to do revision for my A Level and/or GCSE exams?’ Well, every student is different and has different needs, but there are some things that every student should find helpful. So, we have put together this list of revision tips for our A Level and GCSE students to give them a hand.
One thing that students often forget about when revising is the time limit in exams. It’s all very well knowing everything you can about a subject, but if you only have one hour to write you won’t be able to get it all down in the exam. If you do a practice paper under timed conditions this will force you to think about what the most important areas of revision are. Every exam question will be different, but there will be a handful of key ideas that will apply to all of them. If you force yourself to work against the clock in your revision, you will find that you will quickly learn which ideas are most important for you to get down on paper.
Keep Revision Notes Short
There is a school of thought that says your revision notes should be as long as possible. This is wrong. The whole point of revision notes is to make complicated ideas simple. A good way to do this is to make bullet points under key ideas. So, taking the key ideas for a particular topic, say English Literature, you might lay out notes like this:
Passion vs Reason
Heathcliff and Edgar
Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange
This is just a quick example, but you can see how it works. Make a heading with the key idea, and then list the things below that relate to this idea that you can write about in an essay.
Yes, you read that right. PEEing is an essay writing skill that it is important to practice during revision. PEE stands for: Point, Example, Explain. If you are doing a subject that involves essay writing, PEEing is really important. It works like this. Every time you write a new paragraph in your essay, follow the PEE structure. Make your Point: ‘The rivalry between Edgar and Heathcliff is a metaphor for the conflict between passion and reason.’ Give an Example: ‘We see this when Cathy describes them as “different as lightening from a moonbeam”. Then Explain: ‘Cathy says this when trying to decide between the two men. She feels passionate love for Heathcliff, but decides to choose Edgar because it is the safer, more sensible choice.’ Again, this is just an example, but you can understand how it might be used for all kinds of essays!
Be Kind to Yourself
Lastly, be kind to yourself. When you are doing revision you can sometimes feel like you will never understand everything you need to. This is normal. Nobody can remember everything, and nor should they try. These tips are designed to encourage you to focus on the most important things. If you can nail those, you have a great chance to do well. Someone who tries too hard to master every aspect of a subject will always burn out and end up worse off than someone more focused. So, if you’re tired take a break. If you’re hungry have a snack. If you don’t understand something, ask for help.