There are lots of factors that contribute to effective revision. We’ve spoken a lot about preparation and organisation, but what about the actual learning part?
It’s not always easy to know what to do when faced with pages and pages of notes, a big pack of flashcards, and a clock that’s ticking as your exam approaches. So here are a few things you can do to help that information stick, that we’ve found really work!
Make sure your notes are active
This might sound strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense. We don’t mean your notes need to hit their daily step count; but rather you should view them as a working, active document as opposed to something static and pristine which, once written, cannot be edited or added to.
The perfectionists among you might find this painful - but viewing your notes as a constant work-in-progress will leave your mind more open to new information. You’ll be free to add things, change things and get rid of anything you think is irrelevant, and - as long as you don’t make a total mess! - you’ll end up with notes that are highly visual, individual to your style of working, and therefore all the more useful.
If you are a perfectionist, and find the idea of scribbling new information between your neatly written lines and up the margins slightly nauseating, don’t worry (us too)! Sticking post-it notes with extra tidbits of information on top of the relevant pages of your notes is a great way of making sure you get those key things written down, without spoiling the pristine page.
Never underestimate the power of teaching! In more ways than one, teaching will help you learn everything you need to know for your exam.
Explaining concepts to somebody - whether they already know them or not - is an amazing way of getting information to stick in your memory. Articulating information out loud is valuable in itself - but teaching it to somebody else makes it even more useful, as you’ll be articulating ideas in such a way that makes them easy for the other person to understand, which means sifting through what you know and using the information in a deliberate way.
It is this process - of knowing, thinking and then applying that knowledge - that makes explaining ideas and discussing them with people an immensely valuable revision tool.
So sit around with your friends and chat about what you’re revising in History, or explain key biological processes to your family around the dinner table (whether they like it or not)! Your grades will seriously thank you.
Mark your work - and learn from it
Past papers and practice questions are good for more than just timing yourself and judging roughly what grade level you’re at.
If you really pay attention when marking papers, you’ll take away more than just a predicted grade. Read the mark scheme thoroughly - and when you get an answer wrong, write the correct one down on a sheet of paper so that you’re actively acknowledging what the correction is.
Once you’ve marked your paper and have all your corrections in a list, pick 2 things that you definitely want to remember for next time. Write these down, and learn them! You don’t want to make the same mistakes twice as there’s nothing more disheartening, and you want to ensure your confidence grows rather than diminishes as your exams approach!
So what are you waiting for?