Let's talk about revision. Who loves revising? no one. Okay, I like it more than I admit. But it's definitely not my favourite thing! I feel like by this point I've kind of got revising down. I know that at this point SO many people around the country are revising. I see so many students doing their revision towards their GCSEs, A-Levels, degree exams... the bunch! The first thing to note is that this is a long-ass blog post. I've written the ways that I find easiest to revise but please please please realise that everyones brains work in different ways, these things may not work for you but they're perfect for me. I just hope that this can even help one person revise!
This week has been an interesting one. I had an amazing day with one of my best friends when we revised/worked for about 8 hours... and then the next day I went to the library with my friend for 6 hours! Crazy times. So in this post I want to talk to you about some of my fun tips :)
First up - Music. Figure out what works for you. Do you want music on? Does it ned to be silent? One of my friends works best to super loud rock music... which is NOT for me! I love listening to acoustic covers VERY quietly in the background. It gives me a sense of rhythm and pace, keeping me on track.
Another tip for before you start is, of course - FOOD! You need that energy but in a healthy way. My number one revision food is nuts. I take a small pot or piece of tupperwear and fill it with my bean mix from the Food Doctor. I also make sure I have a LOT of water and juice with me to keep my hydrated.
Before revision has even started organize yourself. You MUST ensure that all of your folders, past papers, the area you work in - EVERYTHING is organized. You want to make sure everything is in the correct order, clearly labelled so that you don't miss anything. If you have a specification make sure everything is complete and that you haven't missed anything.
Something significant for this generation: put your phone away. If you're working but constantly texting, checking twitter, Facebook - stop that right this instance! Put it away, turn it off and set aside this time for just working.
My number one tip for revision is to make a plan. I look at the different subject areas that I need to revise for and figure out roughly how long I think each section is going to take me. I then make a time table and stick to it. If you KNOW that you're meant to be spending 4 hours on a certain subject in one day it is much more motivating than thinking 'I wonder what I should work on today...'. For example, I have 2 large essays to write over the next few weeks. Rather than just sitting down and 'writing them', I tell myself that I must write a certain amount of words each day. For example, today I have to write 400. I always make sure the task is manageable and realistic. This way if I write over 400 words I feel rewarded, rather than telling myself I'll write 1,000 and feeling stressed if I can't meet that target.
Specifically for revision I think flash cards are amazing. Once you've made all of your notes and you feel that you just need to learn the information putting key points down on flash cards really helps. I also find mind maps extremely helpful because they're visual and I can then think about that specific page and where the information was on that paper. Another odd one that I actually find fantastic is recording my notes. On your phone you can record yourself saying all your notes. Now... typically when I say this to people they say 'I can't stand the sound of my own voice!!' - GET OVER IT. If you're going to bed at night play the revision recording, it REALLY worked for me. I think for most people the last thing you tend to think about at night is the really significant and important things that have happened that day. If you put on your revision tape whilst you try to sleep the last thing that will be on your mind is these facts that you're trying to learn. I also made sure that the first thing I do when waking up during revision time is reading my notes. I don't even get out of bed, I just look over my cards and read what I need to know.
Past papers are really important. Some schools will give you past papers but if not you can find them online. You can know all the information in the world but if you don't know the layout of the exam you will be extremely disadvantaged. Exam boards can set extremely similar papers each years with questions that run along similar themes. Try to notice patterns in the questions and do the papers, get them marked and then learn where it went wrong. There is NO point in doing a past paper, seeing the mark you got and then filing it away. Something really good that I always did was get a sticky note and write on it something that went wrong that you need to focus on and something that will help during future papers. For example, if I missed out the date after a certain Dance work or painting and my tutor said that I needed to include them I would write 'learn dates for all significant works' as a task.
I LOVE an acronym. For my exam last year I had to remember 8 different artists and their works for one section. I took the first letter of each artists surnames and made a silly sentence from lose letters. It's much easier to remember quirky or odd sentences but test yourself that you know these acronyms before the exam.
Now, get ready to bore some people in your life because research has shown that TEACHING is the best way to test if you have learnt something. Some people say 'teach your teddy bears' - that's a load of rubbish. Your teddy bears cannot respond and ask you questions about what you've told them, and if they can you need to take that thing back to the store because that's bloody creepy. My mum is amazing, if I need to revise something we sit down in my living room, with my notes in front of me and I teach her what I've learnt. It is VERY difficult to teach something you don't understand and by having a conversation with someone about what you've learnt helps you create a memory of you teaching them. This way in the exam it is much easier to recall the information because you're not just recalling what you've read, but you're recalling an actual memory you have with someone. Trust me, this one really works! So speak to your best friend or your mum or your brother or...whoever - but make sure that person is committed to listening and asking questions.
My last tip is that if you have 4 subtopics to revise, make sure that after you've finished topic 2 ensure that you go back over topic 1 again. Don't go through them in order because you will have forgotten number 1 by the time you've finished 4.
Make sure you set an end point. Don't be one of those crazy people that revise until 2am because you won't be retaining the information efficiently and the next day you will be even less productive. Make sure that within your revision plan and your timetable there is an end to your day. Switch off entirely, make sure you have a long relaxing bath, watch your favourite TV program, read a book that is nothing to do with your work - SOMETHING to ensure that you are winding down.
One of my huge pieces of advice for on the day of the exam is to not talk to anyone. You may seem extremely anti-social at this point, but before one of my A-level exams I went to the hall to get ready and everyone was discussing what they did and didn't know. Names of researchers came up who I had never even heard of before and I began to panic that I hadn't learnt all of the information about the topic, but guess what? It's IMPOSSIBLE to learn ALL of the information about a topic. Don't talk to people because hearing about what they've learnt isn't going to help you at that point. Read over your notes quietly in a corner to keep everything fresh in your mind.
I know this is a lot of information but I hope it has helped some of you who are about to revise or are in the middle of revision - KEEP GOING! You can do it :)
Love & hugs,