Start early

Traditionally, students have tended to wait until a month or two before the exams to really get down to revision, (assuming of course that they start at all!) Think about it, though. How many subjects, need revising? How many topics are in those subjects? They can’t revise 24 hours a day. What other commitments will need to carry on-family, school, outside interests, sleep? Waiting just makes it harder and more stressful. It makes it much harder to carry on doing sport, seeing friends or any of the other relaxing and enjoyable things that would help to make revision and exams easier to deal with.

The idea is to get as much information into the long-term memory as possible. Once information is in the long-term memory and the student has practised recalling it a few times, it is done. There is no need to wait until the exams are almost happening.

The message to any student is this: Find out how to revise properly, then start.

Have a clear plan & method

Your teenager will need to have a clear, detailed idea of what they need to revise, when and how they will revise each topic, how they will memorise it and how they will make sure they can recall it when they need to. They need a timetable and a method of creating logical and creative notes in a condensed form to revise from.

The aim is to put what you want to learn into your long-term memory. To do this, for every topic students need to do the following:

Understand

Topics need to be broken down into main ideas and details, so the ideas and the connections between them are clear and easier to understand.

Condense

It is very important to shrink information down to keywords and small chunks of information. The idea is to have small chunks of information which will help with the recall of much more detail.

Memorise

Put what you understand into your long-term memory in a logical and creative way.

Review

Develop a continual, rolling review of revision you have already done. This should be quick and regular. Students should make themselves recall the work from memory, rather than just re-reading notes. It is this that makes the memories stick and which makes them more easily retrievable when needed. It is best to do this by leaving longer and longer intervals between recall sessions, a technique called spaced repetition. Try recalling information after ten minutes, after a few hours, after 24 hours, a week later and a month later.

Doing all of this while making sure to engage as much of the brain as possible, as described above and revision will be much less stressful, much easier and much more fun.

It will also be much more effective.

Melinda Bower

Exampion Tutor