The Jigsaw Puzzle of GCSE Revision

November 21, 2018

I like to use the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle when looking at GCSE revision strategy with students.  There are many similarities that can be drawn between approaching a jigsaw puzzle and carrying out revision. Here are 5 of them:

  1. Overwhelm – when you first open a new jigsaw box it can be overwhelming to see the amount of pieces all mixed up together in the box. How are you ever going to work out how to create the picture on the front of the box? With GCSE revision it can feel the same. There are so many subjects, topics, concepts, key words, quotes and theories to revise it can be very overwhelming for students to know where to start and see how they can begin.
  2. You need a strategy – You won’t be able to create your jigsaw effectively if you don’t work out a strategy to sort the pieces out and establish the order you are going to attempt it. Many people choose to pick out the four corners first, then the edge pieces, then the large objects of the same colour etc. With GCSE revision this is also vital. It’s important to work out your strategy. For example split each subject into topic areas and focus on the weaker ones first, work out the best times to revise each day and plan the workload for each week and establish the best way to revise each subject. Without a revision strategy, the task will always be more overwhelming and less effective.
  3. You don’t need to do it all in one go – The enjoyable thing about jigsaw puzzles is that you can sit down and do little bits at a time and then return to it another time. You probably wouldn’t sit down and complete a jigsaw puzzle in one single sitting for many hours.  You can decide how much time you’ve got, whether it’s a few minutes over a cup of tea or a longer session over an evening and come and go as you please.  Sometimes you may find that you end up spending longer than originally planned because you have got into it and don’t want to walk away until you’ve completed a section.  Sometimes you may feel that you have to step away and take a break because you are getting bogged down with one particular section. This is just the same for GCSE revision.  Break your revision down and aim to revise in smaller sections of time rather than saving it all up for a mammoth cramming session at the end. Some of these sessions may be longer, some shorter, but you are able to space them out and make sure that all subject areas get covered over time.
  4. It can be more fun to do with others – It can be fun and sociable to work on a jigsaw puzzle with others. Different people have different strengths when it comes to jigsaw strategy. Some may be happy to do the more mundane sections, others like to attempt the trickier sections so as a group you are able to achieve more in less time. Working in study groups for GCSE revision can be both more fun and more productive – so long as you choose the right kind of people in your group who won’t be distracting!
  5. It is so satisfying to see the completed jigsaw puzzle – When you have spent time and effort on a jigsaw puzzle it is so satisfying to see the finished product and it makes the all time and effort feel like it has been well spent. The same goes for GCSE revision. When revision schedules and plans have been completed, the feeling of satisfaction and relief will be enormous. It is this feeling that will aid motivation for future revision and study as the brain will be looking to feel that satisfaction again.

If you need extra help with GCSE revision strategy then take a look at my HeadsUp! Revision Strategy programme. Designed specifically for year 10 and 11 students to take the stress out of revision and make it more enjoyable! Available as a half day workshop, 4 part live webinar series or a 1-2-1 tailored programme.

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This post was written by Beth Parmar