In this series, I will collate all the tips, tricks and knowhow I’ve learnt and used over the years to do well at school, in any subject and at any level, although I’ll be focusing on GCSEs primarily. I’ll cover everything from study techniques to last-minute revision, right up until what to do on the day of your exam.
In this part I will be taking the long view. It is coming up to Christmas, and for many of you the real work starts now. For many more of you however, this is a holiday to kick back and savour your last few days of freedom before you promise yourself that you’ll begin revising. Do not fall into this trap. At the very least begin to make a timetable, print out some past papers, buy any equipment you need, get in the mindset and maybe read over some lesson notes to keep fresh.
Once you’ve decided to actually begin, a good place to start is exam papers. Just to see where you’re at, complete one past paper for each module you’re going to sit. Mark the papers in detail, writing full corrections under wrong answers. Don’t panic if you get a bunch of U’s. It’s natural to forget things you’ve learnt earlier in the year without the benefit of even a quick 5 minute read of your notes. The point of this exercise is to see what you know without needing to refresh your memory, so that you can begin to focus on the topics that don’t come naturally to you. Make a list of said topics, and then start revising in the area where you’re weakest. This is also a good strategy to use before mock exams, where you may not have time to write out reams of notes for every subject.
I found that making a Google Document with all the details of my revision (exam papers printed and done, grades achieved in them, topics to revise) was an extremely useful tool, as it can be accessed anytime, anywhere, on any device. It helped to structure my revision, make it as efficient as possible, and ensure that I progressed week by week.
One of the most important things to do during term time is keep on top of your homework and assignments, and do the best you can in them. That way you’re naturally on track with what you’re meant to be learning, and means that you’ll spend less time having to relearn content from scratch later on in the year. I learnt this lesson the hard way, make sure you don’t.
Any questions or further tips you may have are welcome in the comments section below. Good Luck!