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sabine revision2014

Here we are, the last stretch before the dreaded final exams. You have worked hard (hopefully) for the last two years and now your efforts are going to pay off. Many of you students out there will be given study leave to revise for your exams, but how should you organise yourself efficiently in order to maximise your time and performance?

First of all, let us understand that no amount of last minute revision will replace consistent work over the entire course. Having said that, if you haven’t felt confident so far or feel that you are ready to tackle those tricky bits, it isn’t too late to put some of it right. Last minute stage frights are good as they give you the boost of energy you need to make it through the final 3 months. The key is mainly organisation. For each subject, list the topics you need to cover and then for each topic, list the sub-topic. This will be enough to get you started as you will have broken down what you need to cover into small, manageable chunks.  This also makes it easier to find and work examples for each subtopic. For example, in Physics, lay out the formulae and expand them to show how they connect to each concept, emphasising similarities and differences of when they are applicable. To make sure you have understood how and why to use a particular formula, introduce one change in the example and see how this affects the equation. In History, it can be a list of key events, in which case you could draw a diagram of how they are connected, then use this information to answer a practice question, using 1 or 2 sources for reference.

This leads us to actual exam questions. Even though you cannot predict what is going to be asked, you can anticipate the questions based on the work you have done in class. Think about the focus each topic was given. In English, questions will be centred on the themes you have explored, particular character traits or the writer’s craft. Create revision notes with examples for each possible question focus.  In Maths, practise on questions that you find more challenging and always correct your own work with answers from your book. You can also revisit exercises done in class and check against the teacher’s corrections. Use the internet as a resource as there is a great deal of material on Maths and Science.

Variety being the spice of life, try to keep the right balance throughout the revision period in order to keep your motivation up. You may want to alternate between:

  • study period with breaks (the former remaining longer than the latter);
  • reading notes with creating your own revision sheets;
  • harder with easier topics;

You can either work alone, with a small group of peers of with an external tutor. For best results, use a combination of all three.

Explore different ways of memorising data and rotate about 3 different methods that work for you. Common techniques include:

  • mind mapping (helps focus on connections between topics);
  • creating diagrams (focuses the mind on the absolute essential and visual);
  • colourful revision aids are always more memorable);
  • using loci (associate data with places and movements, this particularly helps kinaesthetic learners);
  • having someone read notes to you (helps students who find reading dense text a challenge);
  • flashcards (works well for learning terminology, use colours to highlight spelling challenges).

Some students who work well and regularly still crumble in the exam as it gets the better of their nerves. This is due to the stress of the pressure that is on but also to the exam conditions. One way of overcoming such trauma is to make exam conditions part of your revision routine. Time yourself when doing practice questions, race against the clock, practise writing neatly but quickly and choose a bare environment, free of all distractions, to recreate the exam hall atmosphere.

All of this should help but, as pointed out previously, will not replace two years of dedication.  So if you need a little helping hand or just some advice, you can call the TutorsPlus team on 022 731 81 48.

Remember, your revision may seem like a monster but you can tame it by:

  • Breaking it down
  • Timetabling it
  • Varying the way you approach it
  • Keeping at it until it’s over!

Author's Bio

sabine hutcheson bioSabine Hutcheson is a British-trained school teacher, with over a decade’s teaching experience in Switzerland, UK and neighbouring France. She has taught a variety of subjects to children from 5 to 18 years old, as well as adults, and is now Academic Director and Education Consultant at TutorsPlus. Visit www.tutorsplus.com to find out more about their education consultancy, tuition service, special needs support and intensive SAT/ACT Prep and IGCSE & IB revision courses.

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