DOVER GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOR BOYS
Revision Tips for Students by Teachers
From time to time, give yourself a break. Hours and hours of continuous study may not be effective after a while. What you need to do is to be strict about the amount of time off you plan to take. If it’s ten minutes, don’t take fifteen! During those ten minutes, do something you really enjoy.
Always avoid just ‘reading over my notes’. You have to do something with your textbooks and notes in order to take in what they say. You could try summarising a chapter of a book in as few words or as few bullet points as you can, for example, or put the most important ideas and facts on post-it stickers which you can spread around. But don’t just ‘read’.
If you can find online revision games and puzzles – and they do exist for quite a few subjects – use them to complement your other revision. Even if you can’t find games you may well find revision sites, but make sure that they are good sites first (you could ask your teachers to look at them).
Plan a topic list, breaking the work up into manageable sections, which are easy to put down and pick up.
Revise actively; make notes of notes on
cards. Note key phrases, definitions, tables and diagrams.
Learn definitions – they come up every year.
Use revision notes with stimuli in the left
column and answers on the right. Cover the left and test yourself.
Always return to previously ‘learnt’
material two or more times before the exam.
For each hour of revision completed give
yourself 20 minutes break which includes some kind of reward.
If you have the knowledge to compile web
pages, put together a web site or at least htm pages for your course as if you
were writing notes for someone else, with links to different pages for similar
or connected topics.
Add doodles and cartoons to your pages of
note taking as these seem to be memorable and will jog your memory to the more
difficult and mundane aspects of remembering the course.
Use acronyms where possible for remembering
sequences such as the colours of the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green,
Blue, Indigo, Violet becomes Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain, etc.
Understand the subject – When reading or
writing highlight the keywords then make sure you know their meanings. The
wisdom is if you do not understand the question how can you write a good
Explaining processes – Most subjects have
important processes to learn, e.g. combustion photosynthesis, designing,
analysing. You should be able to explain or at least describe the important
steps that make up the process. Simple Steps Complex Processes!
You can’t learn everything in life – Some
questions are asked about topics you may never have been formally taught, e.g.
some strange animal or exotic plant. Think! The question is probably about
applying facts, principles or processes you already know about. Think
laterally, look for patterns in data given.
Don’t try to revise what you don’t
understand in the first place. Ask your teachers for clarification. That’s
what they are there for!
Short, sharp bursts of activity are better
than sitting for hours looking at a page and thinking you are revising.
Try to do something when you revise. Talk
ideas out loud, draw pictures/diagrams, make abbreviated notes: Don’t just
Get an up-to-date copy of the
Be scrupulous in the organisation of your
Practice exams based on SMART targets.
Decide when not to revise. You are allowed
one day off a week – however if you chose Friday night you are committed to
staying in on Saturday afternoon and evening to revise.
Get some A3 paper and draw up a realistic
revision timetable and stick to it. Fix it to your bedroom wall.
Take fuses out of anything electrical in
your bedroom (play station, TV, etc) apart from one reading lamp, one coffee
percolator (£10 in Adscene) and one radio, which is tuned to Radio 3.
Using coloured paper list topics/themes (red
for Science, green for Maths, blue for History, etc) on the coloured paper and
put up in areas of bedroom/study – group colours together. Get someone at home
to remove one – now and then. Can you still say what’s on it?
As you revise take one A4 page of notes –
aim to reduce this to 10 points. Take the 10 points and aim to reduce to 5.
Learn the five (by note if necessary) - the other five bits will flood into
Always revise a subject with the same piece
of music in the background. Obviously a different piece for each subject – but
always use that piece for that subject.
The optimal length of concentration time is
around 25 minutes. Each session should be limited to this amount of time. You
learn best at the start and end of a revision session so give yourself lots of
starts and ends with short breaks in between.
If you think that the revision session is
boring then do something about it by changing the strategy. Revision does not
have to be boring. It only is if you make it so.
Make audio tape recordings of your notes and
then listen to these as you are falling asleep. Your brain is at it’s most
receptive in this ‘alpha’ state. You may be surprised to know a lot more when
you wake up.
Revise for set periods of time, regardless
of how much you get done. If you know when you will stop your attitude will be
more positive and you will get more done.
For the above idea to work you must organise
content of your revision well in advance. Make a revision timetable with
realistic time slots and carefully planned content, which will cover what you
need to revise.
‘Revise’ your revision timetable at regular
intervals, but always have a fixed finishing time for each session and stick
For English Language and Literature – Read
the poems on audio/cassette/CD and listen to them when walking around or in
any spare time to familiarise yourself with them.
As well as re-reading a novel, watch it on
film and/or listen to it on audiotape. (Generally available at WHSmith,
Waterstones and Blockbusters).
Listen in lessons and follow the teacher-led
revision programme, including practice questions/answers.
Pick a topic and write essential details
about the case study examples and information on small ‘flash’ cards and
review these frequently.
Start early – Work intensively for 20
minutes (have music only if you are not actually listening to it and doing
nothing else). Have a 5 to 10 minute break – walk the dog, have stretch in
garden, have a drink. Then back to a new topic for another 20 minutes.
Pick multi-purpose case study (one that can
be used in different areas of the course) and learn how to draw sketch
map/diagram by constant drawing and redrawing until memorised. Remember – A
picture is worth a thousand words.
Recall all you know about a specific
topic/concept/idea with a memory mind map before you revise in more detail.
Review briefly what you have learnt or
revised the session before using bullet points and colours, thereby building
on what you know and can use.
Use movement, hands, visual images, colours
and shapes to consolidate some of the notions you absolutely need
Find a ‘Revision Buddy’, talking through
your subjects with somebody else will enable you to bounce ideas off each
Place lists, diagrams, formulae on posters
around your bedroom/study place. Take time to walk around and look at them as
often as possible.
Revision Cards – Go through your notes and
other revision materials. Use a pencil or highlighter to underline or
highlight key facts and important terms. Make a revision card (postcard size)
containing the key ideas and information you need to learn.
Test Yourself – Study your revision cards to
learn them. Put away the revision cards and test yourself. You could test
yourself by doing a practice question, writing out the key points from memory
or drawing a diagram or chart.
Check – Look again at your revision cards.
Check you got the facts right and identify anything important you missed out.
Use a pencil or highlighter to mark any important points you did not remember
or got wrong. Learn them and then test yourself again.
Break down large chunks of learning or
material into key words – these become ‘triggers’ for the memory. Keep the key
words on cards for regular review and memorising.
Create large posters to show processes using
Practice exam questions. To save time plan
the answers for longer answer questions.
Create a phrase associated with the first
letter of each word, e.g. ‘Spiced’ – Strong Pound Imports Cheap Exports Dear
to explain what happens to trade and balance of payments when the exchange
Use a side opening plastic wallet and a
highlighter. Slip the page inside the wallet and highlight main points, key
words, dates, etc, as you read. Make notes from highlighted words. Wipe off
wallet and start again.
Plan revision – Make a timetable at least 8
weeks ahead of exams.
Read the section 10 times. Close your eyes
and try to see the words and try to repeat it to yourself in your head. Do
this several times. When you have a good recall of most of the facts re-read
and try to get the section word perfect. Repeat each week to keep it in your
Try to teach the section to your
peers/family. Doing this several times will make you really understand the key
facts. Ask them for feedback or questions and if you can’t answer them repeat
the above revision tip.
Put some relaxing music on with no singing. Shut your eyes and try to visualise exam-type questions. Mentally rehearse your anwers. Come back to your answers in subsequent sessions and try to add more detail. Try to link different ideas. Do no writing – just mentally see the answers.