We’re in the midst of the Summer Term for schools and for many that means the dreaded GCSE exam period. It’s a time that can be filled with confidence and self-assuredness, but it’s also a time of significant pressure and anxiety. In order to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the run-up to exam day, we’ve worked with our own certified Satchel tutors to produce our list of top five exam revision tips for properly preparing and feeling confident on the big day.
The consensus across all the teachers we contacted is the following:
Starting earlier and incorporating shorter bursts of revision over a longer period of time is proven more effective than cramming your study in just days before the exams. This allows your brain time to forget and relearn which, some studies show, helps fixate the information into your long-term memory. It’s also a good idea to really work on the topics you’re struggling with earlier and when you’ve got time on your side. Definitely don’t think sitting down for ten hours of straight revision will help.
Starting early also gives you the ability to add lots more free time. Time to go out with your friends, play football, or maybe even a visit to the cinema. Treat yourself with these scheduled activities to incent your revising. Starting early and sticking to your approach is the best way to both balancing your life and preparing effectively.
Create an Exam Revision Timetable
Find a quiet location where you won’t be disturbed. Organise your notes and make a list of all the topics you need to cover and not focusing solely on your preferred subjects.
Decide the amount of time required for each topic and block the time out on the schedule. A good tactic is to decide how much time you can dedicate to study overall each day and then break it down into 30-minute chunks. Then find or create a calendar and write down each of these blocks, the time, and the topic. If you know you only have to study in small chunks over time, you’ll be more relaxed and more effective, but only if you stick to the timetable, of course.
Organise your notes, make flashcards, and study with a friend
Make a set of notecards that you can cut out or mix and match. An example would be making flash cards that have keywords on one side, and the definitions of those words on the other. Flashcards can help with vocabulary, historical dates, formulas or any subject matter that can be learned in a question-and-answer format.
This is also a great technique for sharing with friends and can even add a competitive element to your revision as you attempt to learn more definitions before your friends do. Incorporating cards into the process of explaining concepts and topics to a friend is a great way to understanding your material. As long as your friend isn’t a distraction to your revision, focused joint study can be quite complementary and beneficial.
Practice, practice, practice
Test yourself continually throughout your revising period. Educational studies have shown that quizzing and periodic retrieval of information not only helps your memory, but also helps with any anxieties. Ask your teacher for help and use the internet for guidance on finding past exam papers. The old saying, ‘practice makes perfect’ certainly holds true for exam preparation, as well.
Test day tips
Preparation is one thing, but what about some actual exam-taking recommendations? The following are some final tips and tricks to maximising marks on the day.
Firstly, go through answering all that you can in a first sweep. At the end you can then go back and attempt some of the harder questions. Once you’ve completed this approach and you have spare time, you can always go back and answer any questions you may have missed. It’s easy in the heat of the exam to miss pages out or miss a question here and there without realising. It seems obvious, but to avoid this pitfall, ensure going through each and every page once you think you’ve finished.
Lastly, try not to worry. Your revision shouldn’t be stressful. If you plan the work properly with enough time and then work the plan, you’ll get the results you need on exam day.