5 Top tips for effective GCSE revision

April 5, 2017


Exams. Most students hate them. Many students don’t know the most effective ways to revise for their GCSEs or how to structure their revision. Often overwhelmed with the amount of material they need to revise, students can get into a complete state about exams and then all hope of effective revision goes out of the window. Even when students spend a considerable amount of time revising, it can often be counter productive and actually not effective. More information could be committed to memory in less time with the right techniques and strategies.

Here are my top 5 tips for effective and focused GCSE revision:Effective-revision-planning-and-tips-pic

  1. Plan Your Revision. This sounds like a basic one, but the majority of students don’t have a proper idea of exactly what it is they need to be revising. A really effective solution for this is to get a large piece of plain paper for each subject and to construct a mind map of all the different topics and sub topics within each subject. Use a syllabus or contents page of a textbook to make sure all subject areas are covered. Once all the topics are on one page it then provides a useful overview of where your time needs to be spent. Which topics do you need to focus on most and which are the ones that you understand well already? This mind map is a very useful resource then for breaking revision into smaller chunks and can be used to help populate a revision timetable.
  2. Make a REALISTIC revision timetable. For each week between now and the exams, create a revision timetable that includes all your activities, social time, free time and relaxation. Break the days down into hour blocks and aim to work for no more than 45 minutes at a time with a 15-minute break. The brain works well up to 45 minutes and then it needs a break before it gets too overwhelmed. Use the revision plan to fill in the timeslots on your timetable, making sure you allow yourself enough time on each subject and topic. Try to add variety in your revision timetable so you don’t focus on just one subject each day. Short sharp bursts of different topics can be more effective than getting bogged down by too much time on just one subject.
  3. Use Rewards. The brain is very motivated by rewards. It likes quick wins and the satisfaction of completing tasks. Set yourself targets each day and allow yourself small rewards when the targets have been met. Always make sure there is something to look forward to at the end of a day of revision to keep you going. Rewards don’t have to be anything big or extravagant. They could be your favourite drink or snack, checking your social media or text messages, meeting up with a friend or watching a TV programme or movie. These rewards can also double up as important relaxation and downtime between revision sessions.
  4. Turn off your phone and social media. Distraction is the main risk to productivity and many students say it is very tempting to keep checking their phones when they hear them beep if they keep them switched on or nearby. Take away the temptation and either switch them off or leave them with a parent or in another room. After a revision session is complete, checking your phone could be one of your rewards.
  5. Don’t just sit and read and re-read your notes and textbooks. Although it can seem like the easy option, reading and re-reading material is not the most effective way for you to remember things. The same goes for simply copying out your notes. Spend your revision timeslots creating some revision sheets full of colour, shapes, pictures and lots of visual interest. This encourages whole brain learning and a far greater chance of visual recall in exams. Creating your own flashcards is also a great use of revision time and you can then use them to get your family members to test your learning. Flashcards are particularly useful for learning technical terms, foreign language vocabulary, quotes and formulas. Auditory learning can also be helped by recording information on your mobile phone and then listening to it when you’re out walking or on the bus for example.  This method can be particularly useful for quotes and foreign languages. Also use on-line resources to add variety to your revision. There are some amazing resources out there. Sites like BBC Bitesize, YouTube and others your subject teachers can recommend can be a great way of supplementing your school work and text books and help to avoid boredom.

I hope you find these tips useful. If you feel you need further help and guidance then please get in touch. I run half day HeadsUp! workshops for GCSE revision technique which take place in Berkhamsted and St Albans. Click here for full details. I also offer a 1-2-1 GCSE revision programme over 4 weeks either face to face or on Skype. Email beth@bethparmar.co.uk or call 07775 565220 for further details.
Good luck with your revision!

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This post was written by Beth Parmar