One of the most overlooked but crucial parts of the whole revision process is making checklists for each exam to make sure you’ve covered everything. These can be divided into two types: The Content Checklist and The Past Paper Checklist. It’s essential that you cover everything on these lists before the big day. Here’s how to go about it.
The Content Checklist
The Content Checklist should be the very first step in your revision process. All it means is writing down every topic and subtopic your exam is going to cover. Then, next to each one, you tick off the stage you’re at with it. This list should be used to help you keep track of whether you have all the notes, whether you've answered all the topic questions and, looping back, whether you’ve filled in the gaps in your notes that these questions flagged up.
To find the topics your exam is going to cover, use the exam board syllabus, your notes, revision guides and also our online resources. We have a ‘Questions by Topic’ page which organises all the exam questions for each topic into handy groups, which could help you with your structure.
Creating a checklist like this is a bit like making a shopping list. In fact, revising for and taking an exam is very much like making a special dinner. Revising is shopping for the ingredients and taking the exam is using them to whip up your meal (bear with us). If you only put into your basket (as in revise) the topic-ingredients you just happen to remember you’ll need, you may get to the kitchen and find you’re making curry without the spice or cheesecake without the cheese. In essence, it just won’t work.
By making The Content Checklist you can identify and address any gaps in your knowledge or notes. Also, writing the checklist can hint at your confidence level in each area, which again shows where you should focus more attention. Your lack of confidence may be partly down to revision technique, so will flag up where you might need to vary your methods.
Although making this list can definitely be a solo activity, it’s great to do it with another person or in a group. Working together to compile a checklist makes it easier, as you can collaborate and share ideas. And because everybody has unique strengths and weaknesses, it can show you where a friend could help you revise, and vice versa.
Making a list of topics and sub-topics is also super useful because it prompts you to make links between them. This will not only improve your memory-recall in an exam but boost your understanding of the subject as a whole!
The Past Paper Checklist
As the name suggests, this just means listing all the Past Papers available for the exam so you can work your way through them. Save My Exams makes this easier by putting them all in one place so you’re not lost across different pages and PDFs!
Past papers are the most important part of the revision process and will show you how questions are phrased, how many marks they’re worth and how you’re expected to approach them. Old exams can sometimes even help you predict which questions have a higher chance of appearing on your own exam, based on the frequency and number of times they’ve previously come up.
So, what are you waiting for? Get listing! There’s nothing as satisfying as getting that red pen and drawing a great big tick next to a topic which previously made you nervous.