Whilst GCSE and A-Level Results Days may be over for another year, it won’t be too long before students will be back into revision mode. Here are a few useful tips for what you can do to ensure your students are revising effectively:
1. Get your students to find out what kind of learners they are – There are plenty of online tests for them to use, to find out if they are visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic learners. What works for one group may not work for another. You could then split the class into their respective learning styles for revision groups.
2. Make revision timetables – Planning is an essential part of success when it comes to revision, as sustained and repeated learning is far more effective than cramming the night before exams. The more frequently students come back to a topic, the more likely they are to remember it. By making plans in advance, this prevents students from wasting time looking for things to learn when they need to be actually revising. It also makes students more realistic about time-management, rather than spending too much time on earlier concepts and being forced to cram closer to exams. Even if students do not keep to the schedules they make, the process will at least make them aware of what they need to have learnt before their exams, and prevent them from underestimating how much work there is to do.
3. Create mind maps – This could either be done individually by students in their notebooks or collaboratively using the classroom whiteboard. The key is that mind mapping allows students to make connections between the various ideas within a subject, making it easier to recall and memorise information. It also breaks down a subject into more manageable chunks, making revision seem less daunting.
4. Use flash cards to recall key concepts and terms – Get students to put questions/terms on one side of the cards, and the answers/definitions on the other. This is a fantastic way to retain information, and can be turned into a fun (and effective!) revision game e.g. how many questions can you get right in under one minute. You could even make some yourself, and stick them on the walls of your classroom.
5. Establish specific study areas – Students can often become distracted if they try and revise in their bedrooms, as there are too many distractions. Let them know the opening hours of the school or local libraries, and encourage them to work there instead. If possible, you may want to also provide after-school study sessions, ensuring students have quiet time to study, and a convenient way to approach you with any questions they might have about the material.
6. Avoid distractions – Even outside of their bedrooms, some students may still find ways to procrastinate. Make students aware of studying apps (e.g. Forest), which allow students to block time-wasting apps and websites for set periods of time.
7. Encourage students to use past papers to practice, preferably closed-book and under timed conditions – It is essential that students have experience of attempting to recall information in a pressured environment, and know what to expect when they enter the exam room. Even if they can’t do full papers, get them to write detailed essay plans. Having a good structure is essential to writing a good essay. If possible, mark their work, or at least provide comments and feedback e.g. include more examples/statistics, ensure you stick to the question, make your handwriting legible, etc.
8. Read examiners’ reports – When the resources are available, make sure your students are looking at examiners’ reports from previous years. Not only does this allow them to mark their practice papers, but examiners often provide comments about what they are looking for more generally from candidates.
9. Teach students about the Protege Effect – One effective form of revision is to have students take on your role as the teacher (although perhaps not during the lessons)! Once students think they are clear in their understanding of the material, encourage them to relay this information to their friends and family. Teaching someone else forces you to organise your knowledge in a clear and structured manner, making the information easier to recall in exam situations. This could also allow students who feel more prepared for exams to help those who may be struggling, whilst also allowing them to continue their own revision.
10. Teach students how to relax during the exam period – Having a positive outlook towards exams can be essential to success, whilst anxiety and stress can cause even well-prepared students to underperform. Encourage students to take regular breaks in their revision period, perhaps adopting the Pomodoro Technique (students work in 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks). Remind them of the importance of having a regular sleep schedule and drinking lots of water. If students continue to feel overwhelmed, remind them that they can reach out to their friends and their family, and to you as well.