Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Case study: How to get the best out of revision

Jordan Millar

Exam period is possibly the most stressful time of school life. Well-meaning parents choosing the week before exams to spew forth the ivory-tower idea that early revision and diligence throughout the year is the way to succeed hardly alleviate those last minute panics.

However, in the final few days before exams begin, it is especially important to think about how best to use the time available to maximise potential.

Personally, I think the key to successful revision is finding the style that suits you. No-one can really tell you what this is, so whether it be writing summaries, recording notes for playback or revision through interpretive break dancing, what works for you works for you! Usually, I read through my textbook, writing down everything I didn't know in a 'first set' of revision notes, then repeated this with the 'first set' to make a 'second set' and so on. I then consolidated it all using past papers and mark schemes. Some people like to make a revision timetable for this sort of thing. However, bear in mind that even though planning revision, making timetables and reading newspaper articles on revision technique can be useful when organising yourself, you must leave enough time to actually do the revision!

The atmosphere you revise in is just as important as your style. Again, this is your own personal choice. I couldn't stand any sort of distraction like music or other people around, but some people like to work together in study groups. Being realistic about how long you can actually concentrate in that environment is also important. There is no point telling yourself you will revise alone for eight hours, only to feel disappointed and guilty when you can't. I found scheduling half-hour breaks for every hour of revision, and alternating subjects between sessions helped me concentrate for longer. Scheduling these breaks with friends allows time for sport and other activities together. I think finding the time to socialise, eat properly and sleep well is just as important as finding the time to revise when it comes to exam performance!

Good luck!

Do & Don't

DO:

  • Plan your revision
  • Revise for as long as you can concentrate
  • Take scheduled breaks
  • Use past papers and, after doing them, mark schemes
  • Eat, drink and sleep properly

DON'T:

  • Keep on revising long after you've lost concentration
  • Avoid revising topics you find hard or boring
  • Resist going out with friends, only to reward yourself with Facebook time
  • Make elaborate, glittering, colour-coded revision timetables to avoid revising
  • Panic!

Jordan Millar biograpghy

  • GCSE Grades: 13A*
  • A Level Subjects/Grades: Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography. 6A*
  • Doing now: Maths @ Trinity College, Cambridge.

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