Updated: Sep 4, 2021
For many students, the GCSE assessment period provides a first experience of sitting public exams. This can make some students concerned that they aren’t preparing in the right way; perhaps they’re using the wrong resources or mismanaging their time. At such a demanding stage of your education, it’s important to have a clear strategy for revision so that you know you’ll be well equipped by the time of your first exam. This post will outline a step-by-step guide for how to develop such a strategy; from finding the right revision space to managing your time off. It will explore some of the good habits to get into, as well as pitfalls to avoid, so that you can study in a calm, purposeful, and efficient way.
1. Revision Space
The first thing that you’ll need in order to revise successfully is a good space to study in. An ideal study space would have a good-sized desk or table, with a comfortable chair to sit on. You should also revise somewhere quiet, where you’re not likely to face many distractions. Essentially, you should try to find somewhere that will allow you to get on with studying without discomfort or interference.
To this end, it is important that TV, phones, or any unnecessary internet browsing is avoided. Electronic devices can be really tempting, especially if a revision session becomes particularly long or difficult. Repeated distraction from devices, however, can mean that revision becomes even longer and more arduous than it would have otherwise been.
One way to avoid the temptation to go on your phone is to use the app ‘Forest’. This app helps you focus by planting a virtual tree each time you sit down to revise. You set the amount of time you want to study for, then, if you click off the app to use your phone before the end of the allotted time, your tree dies. If you complete the whole thing, your tree is added to your virtual forest. The idea is that, by visually representing your concentration achievements in the form of the forest, you become incentivised to persist in avoiding distraction.
Finding a quiet place to revise doesn’t mean you necessarily have to revise in silence. Some people find that listening to music can be help them concentrate. If you do listen to music, however, it is best to find something without lyrics, as they can be distracting when trying to read. Usually, if you want something relaxing that will enhance your concentration, Classical, Ambient, or Jazz are good choices. You’ll be able to find plenty of playlists for these genres on Spotify and YouTube.
2. Time Management
Good time management is crucial for revision to be stress free and effective. It can allow students to mostly avoid having to stay up late and can help them to maintain and thriving social life throughout their studies. It is good to develop a clear sense of what you need to cover over your revision period. Then you can develop certain milestones that you want to pass before a certain time. For example, you may decide that you want a certain portion of your course material to be completed by a certain day.
You can use this long-term timetable to make more detailed plan for each week. Having a comprehensive weekly plan means you will study with a clear sense of purpose. It will also help you to be aware of your progress; whether or not you’re behind or ahead of where you should be.
Timetabling also allows you to allocate periods for much needed rest time. In particular, keeping a regular sleep schedule can give you the energy to revise with ease.
3. Learning and Testing
Revising a particular bit of content usually involves two things: you must go over notes and other resources, trying to remember the material and gain an understanding. You also, at some point, need to test your knowledge. Testing is important as it can reinforce learning and highlight areas of strength and weakness in your understanding.
One way to balance learning and testing is to go through some content and then do a short test to make sure you understand it. Later on, once you’ve got to the end of studying that subject for the day, attempt a past paper, perhaps skipping the topics you’ve not covered yet. This gets you more familiar with exam style questions, and also reinforces learning from previous days. As you get closer to the final exam, the proportion of your time dedicated to testing should increase.
You can find a whole host of revision notes, tests, and past papers over at: https://www.studysquare.co.uk/tests
4. Rest and Time Off
Students who are driven to work hard for their GCSE exams can sometimes forget the importance of allocating time for rest and recreation. Overworking yourself can actually decrease your quality of revision, whereas periodic breaks and well organised off-time can improve your motivation and the quality of your revision. Obviously, these breaks shouldn’t interfere with your study. Time off should always be fit into your schedule and strictly separated from revision time.
Going for short walks are a good option for breaks within a study session. Revising students often spend a long time inside, often in a single room. Going for a walk that starts from your home, perhaps around a park, is a good way to clear your head and to get some exercise.
Also, walks are a good break option as they tend to have a fixed duration. You can quickly work out preferred routes and how long it takes you to complete them. This means you can plan exactly how long your break will be. The problem with watching TV or YouTube during a revision break is that once your start it is easy to just keep going for hours. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to get back to revising.
The easiest way to get good grades in your GCSEs is to start revising early on with a clear plan of action. A lot of students end up getting unnecessarily stressed and overworked due to poor organisation. By starting early, keeping on top of your targets and deadlines, while also leaving time for resting or seeing friends, you can make the most of your revision time without sacrificing your mental or physical well-being.
Get hold of our Exam Revision Guide and let’s turn your exam experience into a success story 😀 → https://www.studysquare.co.uk/pdf
Logic Enthusiast is an independent writer and is studying for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He is particularly interested in Logic and the Philosophy of Science.