Top 5 GCSE Exam Revision Techniques
If you’re a GCSE student, it’s likely that you’re going to be assessed mostly through exams and other tests at the end of your two years of teaching. Getting a good grip of so much content can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task; especially if you’ve never taken so many formal exams before. It is important, therefore, to develop some techniques that can help you to revise in a productive and comfortable way. Every student is different and, as such, it is valuable to take a bit of time to try out different methods and systems to see what works best for you. This post will outline five such revision techniques, which could help you to you maximise the efficiency of your studying time.
1. Timetables and Schedules
Making the best use of your revision time can be difficult, and so planning what and when you’re going to study is important. One thing you can do to help you plan is to use long-term timetables and weekly schedules. To draw up a long-term timetable, you first work out how much time you have to revise, and how much revision you need to do in that time. You then write down, in broad terms, what you want to have achieved by the end of each week of your revision period. A bit closer to the start of the week itself, you can make a weekly schedule in which you lay out in more detail what content you want to cover each day in order to achieve the weekly target set out in your timetable.
This system allows you to develop a long-term plan, while not having to get bogged down in the details of exactly what you need to do each week until just before it starts. Plans like these also allow you to break large amounts content into manageable chunks. This means you can get clear on exactly what you need to study, which helps you to avoid accidentally missing out content, or misallocating your time.
2. Creating Concise Revision Notes
As you begin going through class notes and textbooks in preparation for your exams, it can be useful to write a set of extremely concise notes which lay out the fundamental ideas of your course. These notes can be as short as a few sides of A4 paper for each subject. In doing this, you highlight the most important theories, ideas, and skills that you need to know for your exams.
GCSE courses often be quite extensive. When faced with such a large amount of content, it can be difficult to know what to focus on first. In learning these condensed notes really well, you give yourself a firm grasp of the central ideas of a subject, which will help you when you go back to your class notes and textbooks to develop a better understanding of the details of the content. These notes can also be useful to focus any last-minute revision that you might want to do the evening before an exam.
3. Flashcards and Sticky Notes
During our daily lives, we often experience unavoidable moments of boredom of inactivity. You can use flashcards and sticky notes to turn these moments into valuable revision time. Flashcards are small pieces of cards with one or two bits of information on them. You can write revision notes on flash cards and then take them with you on your travels. If you have a spare minute, when waiting for the bus, for example, you can pull out your flash cards and do a bit of revision. Some people like to use flash cards to test themselves; they write questions on one side, and answers on the other.
Sticky notes, such as post-it notes, can be used in a similar way. You can write brief revisions notes on them and then stick them around your home, perhaps on the fridge or bathroom mirror. This way, when you’re brushing your teeth or making a sandwich, you can go through some content as you do so.
It is best to use flashcards and sticky notes to learn things like equations, definitions, or brief explanations. Bigger concepts or explanations often take more time and care to revise, and so it won’t be as useful to try and tackle them in these small spare moments.
4. Teaching Others
Sometimes a student will think they have a good grasp of an idea or concept, but when their exam comes around, they struggle to explain what they’ve learnt clearly on paper.
To avoid this problem, it can be really valuable if you sit friends or members of family down and try to teach them the idea or concept. In doing this you are forced to explain what you know in a really clear and concise way. If you can teach something to others, so that they start to understand it, that is a good sign that you understand that thing yourself.
When doing this, it is best to pick someone of an appropriate age and ability for understanding GCSE level content, so very young siblings probably shouldn’t be your first choice.
5. Testing Yourself
One of the best ways of tracking your progress when revising is to regularly test yourself. You can do this by taking past papers, or by taking shorter and more informal tests. Doing tests allows you to highlight areas of strength and weakness, which can then guide your future revision. Using past papers is particularly useful as it allows you get used to the style that your exam or final test questions will be written in. After you have completed a past paper, make sure to use the marking scheme to see how you performed, as this will help you to learn the kinds of things that will get you high marks for your answers.
You can find a whole host of past papers and practice tests for Maths and the Sciences over at StudySquare.co.uk:
The revision period can be a difficult time for even the most confident students. In order to have a relaxed and productive revision period, it is best to start revising quite early. In this way, you can revise thoroughly, without ever having to push yourself too hard. Starting early also gives you an opportunity to experiment with the techniques outlined above, to see which you like best. Doing this will help you to revise effectively, with a clear motivation and a good knowledge of what study techniques work well for you.
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.