It might only be early November, but with all the excitement that comes with Christmas and New Year, January exams will be upon you quicker than you can say Santa Claus.
But there’s no need to panic! Whether you’ve been getting deep into our range of Edexcel past papers, piledriving your way through all that coursework, or simply Netflix-binging into the early hours, there’s always something you can do to better ready yourself for the exam season. A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to revising, and there’s actually lots you can be doing right now which will help you smash your exams in the new year.
Here are a few ideas to get you started. And do you know what the best part is? Doing some preparation now will mean you can spend more time relaxing, eating, and just generally being merry over the Christmas holidays. And who doesn’t want that?!
1. Make a timetable
Draw up a timetable on A3 paper that accounts for all the days between now and your exams, and start assigning subjects and topics to each day so that you know what you’ll be revising and when.
Front load your revision between now and Christmas so that you can relax over the festive period, safe in the knowledge that you’re on top of your workload. Also be sure to factor in time for breaks, days off, exercise and any plans with friends or family. You’ll work far more efficiently if you manage to strike a healthy balance between school, revision and life.
Here’s an idea of what you revision timetable might look like for one week:
2. Make a topic checklist
Writing out a long list of all the topics you need to cover is super useful, as it means you can be 100% sure you haven’t missed anything.
Write down every topic and subtopic that could come up in the exam, and leave spaces to mark the stage you’re at with it e.g. ‘Notes written’, ‘Past papers completed’, ‘Model answers checked’ – these will help you keep track of progress and remind yourself where you’re at with everything after you’ve had a few days off over Christmas.
If you need some help collating all of the topics in your syllabus, we’d recommend looking at revision guides and textbooks, going back through your notes, using your exam board’s website, whether Edexcel, OCR or CIE, and referring to the questions by topic, which you can find easily throughout Save My Exams.
3. Set yourself some goals
You can’t get where you need to be if you don’t know where you’re going, so before you get fully stuck in to your revision routine, you should have a think about what you want to achieve in your January exams.
Do you want to lay some important groundwork, by organising your notes and making revision resources that you’ll be able to re-use when your summer exams roll around?
Is there a certain grade boundary you want to hit, or a certain subject you want to improve in? Do you want to work out exactly where you’re struggling the most, so that you can work on these areas next term?
Do you want to get a certain score so that you can send some super impressive predicted grades to your university choices next year?
All of these goals, and any others that you might have, are productive and valid, and will help motivate you to focus and work hard when revising for your January exams.
Set yourself two or three realistic goals before you start revising, and keep these in mind as you finish up this term at school and get stuck into your revision over Christmas. Don’t lose sight of them, as they will help give you a sense of purpose as you work towards your January exams.
4. Get ahead on coursework or homework
If you’ve got coursework deadlines, reading tasks or pieces of homework due in after Christmas that you know will take up lots of time over the holidays, get cracking with them now whilst you have time on your hands, so that they don’t eat into valuable Christmas revision time.
Planning ahead, thinking about how long tasks will take you, and managing your school work accordingly, is only going to make your life easier in the long term. Instead of spending an evening watching TV, try and do something productive such as working on your coursework or reading a set text (which you’ll have to do eventually anyway!).
It makes sense to get a head start, because doing the work now will mean there’s far less for you to do over the Christmas holidays; and will leave you with enough time to have some fun over the festive period, whilst still fitting in that all-important revision.
5. Test the waters using our Topic Questions
Our Topic Questions are exam-level questions organised into topics, that allow you to test yourself on the specific areas you want to revise. Doing practice questions like this will not only reinforce what you’ve learnt, but will also highlight any gaps in your understanding.
Topic Questions are a valuable resource when it comes to January exam revision – especially if you’re studying a subject (such as one of the new GCSE or new A Level courses) which only has a handful of past papers to look at. Seeing as you haven’t covered all the material yet, you don’t want to use up all the available past papers just yet; because chances are you’ll want to practice them fresh in the summer.
Therefore, our Topic Questions are the ideal way to get targeted exam practice without using up valuable (and limited) past paper resources. Save My Exams members get full access to mark schemes and model answers written by our resident exam experts too, so that after answering the questions you can work out where you went wrong and improve for next time.
Not a member? Click here to sign up and gain full access to our resources.
So that’s that! Five things you can do right now that will pay dividends when you sit your January exams next year. It might seem early to start preparing, but your future self will seriously thank you.
Best of luck!