Tony Oulton, Head of RE at Woldingham School shares his top tips for revision success:
Whether you started your revision months ago or are still waiting for the right moment to begin, the steps below are your path to acing your exams this summer.
- Stop faffing about and get started! If you’re one of those people who like to wait for the right moment to begin a piece of work then accept the fact that now is that right moment!
- Be organised in your revision. Create a revision timetable – something very simple but which will mean you have a plan to follow day to day, especially now as study leave has started and when, without the routine of the school day, time can fly by. Try to think of a day divided into three blocks – morning, afternoon and evening – and make sure you work hard during two of those blocks each day. You should rest, watch boxsets, hang out with friends or just sleep during the other block, but make sure you work effectively during the other two.
- Plan for success. Use every resource out there to make sure you do yourself proud. Use the exam board websites to look at past exam papers so you know the sorts of questions that will come up. Use mark schemes to know how to get the highest marks. Ask your teachers for help. Use online resources, BBC Bitesize and online student forums. Make sure you have all the stuff you need to know at your fingertips.
- Rest! You’ll have to be careful with this one because too much rest can set your revision schedule off-track. Do build down-time into every day, when you walk away from your books and allow your brain to consolidate all the information you’ve been feeding it.
- More rest! This time we’re talking about the rest you’ll need to give your brain every 20 to 30 minutes while you revise. It’s impossible, and ultimately unproductive, to sit in one place with your head stuck in a revision book for any longer than that because your brain needs regular distractions. Give your brain what it needs by making sure you get up and move away from your desk every half an hour for about 3-5 minutes. Do some yoga, bust some moves or treat yourself to your favourite snack. Just make sure you put them in another room so you have to move to get them.
- Which brings us to food. You’ll need to ensure you’re getting the best balance of nutrients you can while you’re revising. The brain uses up around 20% of our daily calorie intake and when you’re working it hard it’ll need extra supplies to keep working to its optimum. If you can, eat loads of fruit and other healthy stuff as well as the treats you love.
- Drink. Water that is. You need to drink about 2–2.5 litres of water a day. If you do you’ll be keeping your brain nice and hydrated and a nice and hydrated brain is a brain that retains facts more easily.
- Ditch the phone. Well, at least during study times. I know it might feel like someone’s taken away a piece of an essential limb, but without it near at hand you’ll be a lot more productive. Keep it out of the room you’re revising in, but if that feels like a sacrifice too far at least make sure it’s on silent and out of your sight and only check it during your regular short rests. Though remember, when the five minutes of rest time is up the phone goes into hibernation again.
- Surround yourself with nice people. Most of us will find it easier to be around people who are calm and kind during times of stress, and revision time can be a major stress. It might sound harsh but the next few weeks are the time to avoid friendships that cause you extra tension because you don’t need it. Those who genuinely love and care for you will understand that for the next few weeks they can’t be your priority and they’ll be there wishing all the best from the side lines and waiting to celebrate with you when the exams are over.
- Which reminds me to say that you need to accept that the next few weeks won’t be among the most joyous you’ll ever experience. They will be hard, you may get frustrated and want to give up but try to keep a sense of perspective. These few short weeks will soon pass and when they do you’ll be able to look back at them as if they were all just a dream, even if a pretty horrible and prolonged one!