Last Minute Revision Tips for A Level Students
Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.
You might be in the thick of your A Level exams at the moment, but the revision must go on. So, to help you out if your inspiration and motivation is starting to wane, here are some last minute revision tips from us (that really work).
1. Make a revision timetable, and stick to it
Even as you start to tick exams off the calendar, it’s a good idea to create a revision timetable to keep you on track over the coming days and weels.
Be sure to include the date, time and location of your exams, as this will allow you to prioritise the subjects you will be examined on first. Avoid setting yourself overly ambitious goals and try to be realistic about how much work you can achieve in one day. Experts advise that lists should never be more than seven items long. So don’t put too much on your plate, as you are sure to feel disheartened when you fail to accomplish all your tasks.
As part of your revision timetable, make sure you schedule in breaks and down time. If you’ve been revising for twenty minutes to half an hour, then award yourself a five minute break. If you’ve been revising for half an hour to an hour, then take ten minutes. Finally, if you’ve revised for a total of three hours plus, then take forty-five minutes to one hour off. Obviously these time frames vary depending on the individual, but use them as a guide. Breaks are important as they allow us time to process the information we’ve just learnt.
Down time comes in a variety of forms, from exercise to watching a film, to popping out for a coffee. It’s important to allow yourself a moment of relaxation and distraction, engaging in an activity outside the realm of revision. This will allow you to return to your revision relaxed and invigorated, ready to pick up where you left off.
2. Practice using A Level past papers
Practicing past papers is an important part of the revision process. Once you’ve revised every topic, past papers allow you to apply what you’ve learnt and highlight any potential gaps in your knowledge. They also allow you to familiarise yourself with the format of the exam, the types of questions, how they’re worded and how much each question is worth. Cross referencing past papers from different years will also often reveal similarities between questions. Therefore it’s important you familiarise yourself with past papers, so you can spot any patterns and gain an insight into what might come up in your exam.
Past papers are also crucial in helping with the timing of your exam. Practice past papers under exam conditions in your own time: this means in silence, in the allotted time frame and without distractions. This will help you know how long to spend on each section of the exam, and iron out any problems you may encounter with timings so you definitely know you can complete every question in the time frame.
Ideally, you will have completed all the available past papers before the exam.
3. Ask somebody to test you
Asking a family member or friend to test you is a great revision technique. Make flashcards with the question on one side and the answer on the other. This could be a keyword and a definition, or an event and a date, amongst other things. Have someone test you in order to strengthen your memory, or shed light on any gaps in your knowledge.
Having to communicate your answers aloud to another person is a great way to retain information. It is also an enjoyable way to revise, as you can have fun with your partner, rather than attempting to learn everything on your own.
4. Condense your notes
Although having a wealth of material is great, as your exams approach, it is a good idea to consolidate your notes into one succinct document that contains the most essential information. This document may include keywords, formulae, dates, facts, figures or key quotes.
Such a document is a useful tool to use before your exam. In the moments before you place your possessions in your locker and walk to the exam hall, you can glance at the document to remind yourself of the most important information you want to remember in the exam. So, when you begin your exam, this information is fresh in your mind.
5. Get plenty of sleep
Getting enough sleep is imperative as it gives your brain a chance to process the events of the day. This allows your brain to function at full capacity the next day, keeping your concentration levels and your energy high throughout the day.
Make sure you set yourself a curfew and an alarm in the morning. Before you go to sleep, factor in down time, turning off any electronic devices that can prevent you from falling into a deep sleep, and doing something relaxing like colouring or reading. In the morning, schedule in time to wake up early, and eat a nutritionally balanced breakfast, so you give yourself the best chance of having a truly productive day of revision.