As we approach the exam period families will be wondering what the best methods are to help their children revise. Below are some tips which, based on research, are some of the best ways to help students to revise effectively.
Our mantra for revision is to recap and practise.
- Get them to self-test, a lot.
Research shows that testing in order to recall content is the best way of getting us to think hard. Thinking about and getting the answer is much better than re-reading notes. The more we recall information the better it sticks in our long term memory. This should be in the form of quizzing themselves where possible.
- Past Papers
Encourage them to redo any past exam questions without their notes. Simply trying to recall answers to mind is an effective revision technique. Afterwards, use the mark scheme and help them to identify successes and areas for further work. Past papers and mark schemes can be found on any exam boards’ websites. Our exam board specifications for 2018 can be found on our website for Year 11 and Year 13.
- Talk to them
Get your child to tell you what they have learnt or are revising, then quiz them at random times: at breakfast, at the dinner table, or even in the car. Ask them questions that relate to their studies and get them to think hard about the answer. Their books should be a good source of quizzing information for you.
Get them to explain their answer. Adding reason to an answer helps them to remember. And only accept the right answer – no half marks.
- Read around the subject
Even if the content is not in the exam, understanding the subject area better helps to build links which may be valuable for those higher grade questions. Recommended documentaries, websites, exam board resources and places of interest to visit can also be beneficial.
- Space it out
Distribute their practice of different subjects or different areas of a subject. Research shows that spacing out practice aids memory. Cramming will help for a short period and may be useful the night before an exam but this is not the most effective for long-term memory. A revision time table can help with this.
- Learn keywords and definitions by heart
Learning the correct definitions in some subjects will help gain a few extra marks, so long as they use them correctly. Produce memory cards with the key word and the definition on to test them regularly.
- Use memory tricks
Mnemonics, such as “Richard of York gave battle in vain” to remember the colours of the rainbow, can be a good trick to remember sequences and lists of information. Get them to invent their own. Making them funny or rude can be a great hook for memory! They can be a good way of helping to store larger chunks of information. Write them on posters and stick them up around their room or the house.
- Go easy on the highlighters
Rereading and highlighting key points is not the best way to revise. If they are unsure on a subject this may help to learn a topic, but always get them to check with a teacher that they’ve understood properly what they’ve read.
- Sleeping, eating and hydration
Exercise can be beneficial for the mind and body and students should not ignore this. Exercise and revision can lead to tiredness and learning is hard work, so the brain and body need plenty of fuel.
- Build in breaks
Splitting up a study day in to small study and rest periods can be beneficial. Remove any distractions such as computers and other media sources, especially mobile phones. These can be a reward for studying hard. It is useful to have a positive learning environment – a dedicated space that is clear and equipped for revising so there is no procrastinating.
- Start now
The mock exams are a good indicator of where they are but with a balanced programme of study they can gain those few extra grades between now and the summer.
- Subject specific is best
The nature of revision varies from subject to subject. The subject content is the most important thing for them to learn. Their job is to remember what we taught them in class. The whole purpose of revision should be to help with that.