The transition from GCSEs to A-levels is an exciting time that will present both new…
The Easter break is your chance to get stuck into revising and preparing yourself for summer exams − whether you’re taking A-Levels or GCSEs. However, it’s easier said than done to pick up your textbooks and flashcards and actually start going over content… So we’re here to give you a few handy tips to give you a head start with your revision.
How much time should I be spending on my revision?
Without the structure of the school day, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to start putting in the hours each day into going over content. At the start of the holidays, it’s a good idea to figure out how much time you want to keep yourself accountable for revising each day − and this amount is completely dependent on how you work best.
One of the benefits of learning on your own and revising away from school is that you can work when you work best − you may be a night owl and can’t possibly get anything done during the day. You might only be able to work before noon, and after that it’s all wasted time. Figuring out the time of day you are most productive will help
Generally speaking, there are two main ways of deciding how long you’ll spend on revision each day…
First up, we have the time based approach. It’s pretty simple − decide the length of time you’ll dedicate to revision each day. You can either set yourself a uniform goal − “I’ll get five hours of work done each day” − or decide different hours on different days.
Some educational experts claim that seven hours a day is the perfect amount to try and cover each Easter day − which makes sense, seeing as it’s roughly equivalent to a typical school day plus daily homework. However this might seem like a daunting task for you to launch into, away from the structure of a school day.
It might be better for you to set a slightly shorter time goal each day, to find out what works best for you, and then work up to however many hours you can manage in a day as the Easter Holidays go on.
Content to cover approach
Alternatively, you may prefer to take a content-based approach to distributing work over their Easter holidays. You could figure out the total amount of work you want to cover, and then assign topics or units to different days. This can be particularly useful at GCSE level, when you will be studying loads of different subjects − with an hours-based approach it could be easy to overlook some subjects.
This might mean that one day you work a couple more hours than another, but it results in an efficient way to make sure you’re covering everything you need to before exam day.
Websites such as GetRevising and GoConqr can build you a timetable if you put in all the content you wish to cover! Or you could go the more analogue to-do list route and just write out topics for each day.
What methods should I be using?
There’s so many methods out there which can aid you in your Easter revision. Using a combination of many techniques will likely give you the best results, and makes revising a little more interesting that just reading the same facts again and again.
Going over real exam questions − especially in ‘exam conditions’ − is a must so that you can get used to the style of sitting exams. Even within the same subject, there will be slight differences between the exam boards and how they present questions in exams − so make sure you’re using past papers from the correct board!
Try out some questions aided with your notes, and then without the support of your textbook, and just keep practising as your scores improve!
Flashcards are ideal for key terms or short facts or numbers you need to memorise. And they don’t need to be old-school paper flashcards! Use a site like Quizlet to make electronic flashcards that you can practice in a number of formats.
There are pros and cons to using flashcards which you haven’t made yourself. Though making flashcards yourself can be very time-consuming, it can also be helpful for your memory to physically write or type out key terms yourself. Think about how much time you have and base your method off that!
Make sure you’re going over your flashcards frequently to maximise memory.
You can use mind maps in many ways. One classic use of mind mapping is to create a nice visual aid you can put around your room or refer to when completing past paper questions. If you’re more of a visual learner, you can use as many diagrams and doodles as you can, if it’ll help with your memory recall! They’re especially helpful if you’re studying more science-based topics where you’re looking at lots of inter-connecting concepts.
There are also more active ways you can use mind maps for revision. For example, you could do an activity where you mind map as much as you can remember from a topic (you could even do this in a set amount of time!) and then go back with the textbook and add in everything you missed with a different coloured pen. If you do this regularly, you should be able to improve the amount of content you can recall each time.
Though it’s best for muscle memory that you make your own mind-maps, if you’re low on time you can check out our colourful, pre-made science mind-maps, downloadable free on our website here.
A more musical and creative revision technique is creating mnemonics and songs as memory tools. Especially if you make them up yourself, this can be an effective way to learn a lot of information in one little jingle or sentence.
For example, one of the most common mnemonics is SOHCAHTOA, which you’ve likely used to remember the ratios of sine, cosine, and tangent in trig questions.
You can also often find songs and mnemonics made by other students and even teachers on places like Youtube.
Top revision tips
Pop notes around your room or house
If you write out key terms/facts you need to memorise and put them up on post-it notes around your room, or even house, then you’ll be constantly recapping important info you’ll need in your exams.
Struggling to get started revising? You might want to check out the Pomodoro Technique, which is when you study for 25 minutes before a 5 minute break, and repeat. After four cycles of this, you take a longer break. There’s lots of helpful online sites that offer an automated Pomodoro you might want to try − including this one. This can be a good way to just get stuck straight into revision.
Take regular breaks and look after yourself
The most important thing to keep in mind as you crack on with revision is always to make sure you’re putting your mental and physical wellbeing first. Taking regular breaks, getting enough sleep, and doing some exercise will help you out so much during this stressful time.
Do you have any top tips or revision hacks you think everyone should know? Drop them below in the comments – and best of luck with your revision!