Exams looming? No need to panic, just get organised!
1) GETTING STARTED
Find somewhere quiet to work, somewhere that you feel comfortable.
Take frequent breaks, work in short bursts (15 minutes or so), then change topic or subject.
When you're revising, the trick is to be active.
That means not simply reading your books and hoping that it'll sink in, but actually doing something with the information.
But what should I actually do? That's what this page is about.
There's so much of it! Where do I start?
A lot of people will put a job off if the job seems big and scary, and revision can seem like that. So where do you start? It doesn't really matter, just pick something that you like, that seems "do-able" and make a start on that. Promise yourself that you'll start today (important!), at 6 o'clock (or whatever), and stick to your promise!
Once you're into the routine of revision you'll feel good that you're getting on with it, and it wont seem scary. What What sort of learner am I?
There are many ways to revise and learn, and you need to find out what works best for you.
Take a look at this section, and also ask your teachers for advice
Most people remember things visually - in other words, they remember a picture of what they saw when they read the page.
If you're one of these people, try writing notes or equations onto one piece of paper and then colour coding them, or adding any other theme that makes it stick in your mind. Then look it over once a day, and notice the shapes on the paper; in the exam you'll find that you can "see" the paper and remember what was there. If this is you, you might find "spider diagrams" useful.
Or maybe your mind works more on auditory recall - you remember sounds.
If this is you, and you like to have music playing when you work, try noticing what music is playing when you revise each bit, and this might help you remember the stuff you're revising. Say things out loud, perhaps record your voice and listen to it later. Podcasts for MP3 players can be useful: you can make your own or buy them. If you ask us we might already have some.
Other people remember "kinaesthetically" - they remember the muscle movements they made when they did something. If this is you, then any kind of activity may help you to remember, as will any kind of cutting-and-sticking. So write things out on a sheet of paper, cut it out to make a jigsaw, then sort it out - there's an example below. Practice your jigsaw each evening - with practice it'll only take a minute or so. In the exam, cast your mind back to that jigsaw, and the stuff should come flooding back.
So which type of mind do you think you have? You're most likely to be a mixture of all of these, but by picking out a few of these ideas that you like the sound of, you can make life much easier.
2) MAKING IT STICK
Now you have an idea about what works for you, here are some different things to try:-
Remind yourself over and over
If you revise something tonight, by this time tomorrow you'll have forgotten at least some of it.
So take another quick look at it tomorrow, to "top up" your memory.
Take another quick look next week, and keep "topping up" until the night before the exam.
This doesn't take long to do, and is usually quite comforting - you feel good because you find that the stuff looks familiar each time you look at it; because it's quick you can easily fit it in with all your other revision.
"Look, Cover, Write, Check"
This is probably the way that you learned spellings in Primary School.
1) read it, 2) hide it away, 3) write it out, 4) check to see if you got it right.
This technique is good for spellings, diagrams, equations, lists of facts and a whole lot more.
Remembering labelled diagrams
Draw a copy of the diagram - but without the labels. Then try to fill in the labels from memory.
Go through your books highlighting key words / key ideas. Not only does this make it easier to revise later, but the act of scanning through your books looking for the key stuff helps you to remember it. (Might be an idea to ask your teachers first, before you do this to your books, but if you explain why they'll almost certainly be delighted that you're getting on with your revision)
Make summaries of the information
For example, try to get the whole topic onto one side of A4 paper. It's the act of making the sheet which fixes the information in your mind. You might like to use "concept maps" (you might call them "spider diagrams") - they really help to show what's in a topic.
Make your own "Flash Cards"
These can help you to remember facts and equations. The idea is to carry them with you, and look at them when you have a spare moment (lunch queues, break times, on the bus...) You could put headings on one side and details on the other.
List things on a sheet of paper, cut the paper up, jumble it, then sort it out. Here's an example
Mouth grinds up the food Oesophagus connects the mouth to the stomach Stomach adds acid to the food to break it down Duodenum connects the stomach to the small intestine Liver makes bile to break down fats Small Intestine absorbs nutrients into the bloodstream for transport around the body Large Intestine recovers water from the digested food Rectum waste is stored here, ready to leave the body Anus waste leaves the body
Note: the important thing about this is not that you have it - it's the act of making and using it that does the job!
Work out "what could they ask me about this?"
For example, in a question about acids and alkalis, it's a safe bet that you'll be expected to know about the numbers on the pH scale, the colours that Universal Indicator goes, and what "neutralisation" means. In questions about the planets, expect to be asked about their names, the order that they're in (counting outwards from the Sun), which ones are hottest/coldest, which ones go round the Sun fastest.... you've got the idea.
Practice on real exam questions
The more you can try, the better. You wouldn't expect to do any other performance without a realistic rehearsal, and this is no different.
Be clear about what you're expected to know
Otherwise how do you know if you've revised it all? Check with your teachers if you're not sure. Go along to any revision sessions that you can. These can really boost your confidence, which is what many people need the most. You'll probably also be able to ask a different teacher about any bits that confuse you, and have it explained in a different way.
Identify your strong and weak areas
Then you'll know where to concentrate your efforts. Go through your books and put green blobs beside stuff that you're happy about, and red blobs beside the bits you find more difficult. Then you know what to ask your teachers about at those revision sessions.
Work with somebody else
There's an old saying: "the best way to learn is to teach". Try it! If you can explain stuff to somebody else, then you know that you've got it straight yourself.
3) IN THE EXAM. ROOM
sure that you have everything that you need (pens, pencil, calculator &
spare batteries, ruler, etc.).
Keep an eye on the time.
If you get stuck on a question, don't waste time on it - move on and come back to it later if you can.
Check to see how many marks each bit is worth.
Don't write huge chunks for one-mark questions - you won't get any extra marks for it.
If a question is worth two marks, you probably need to say two different things. (Not say the
same thing twice!)
Read the question carefully! Each year thousands of people lose marks because they rushed into an
answer before they'd understood what the question was actually asking.
(modified from Andy Darville's Science Revision Website)