Getting the most from your revision guides

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Below is a brief outline of how to use a revision guide which could form the basis of a discussion with your class or tutor group. It could be part of a discussion within PSHEE or just given to students to help with their revision preparation.

Using a revision guide is often suggested by many teachers to students all over the UK but do they really help students, or do they just repeat the notes already made? It is important that revision guides contribute something else to a student’s revision. A good revision guide will:

1. Be colourful, which makes it easier to focus and take in.
2. Show graphs or mathematical calculations, which are well explained and students are given real examples of how these can be applied to a question.
3. Be linked to the exam board – this makes it accurate and official. It will contain all exam content.
4. Have exam questions linked in with the content to show students how a topic could be asked in an exam.

 

When is best to use a revision guide?

This is going to be different for each student but it is suggested that revision guides should come into use around 3 weeks before an exam. Working on a 10 week revision program, there should be condensing of the information from a textbook, class notes and other materials into easy to use chunks as mentioned in my previous article about how to revise.  Once these have been covered, a revision guide may come in handy.

How to use a revision guide?

The best bit of advice here is simple – make it yours!

– Use highlighters to underline key words or perhaps to identify terms you are not happy with. These could be colour coded to link together.
– Use posts it notes to highlight key words or summarise the main points/diagrams on the page.
– Write comments or other key words on each page as this will help link terms together.
– Use it as a refresher, with the majority of the detail already learnt.
– Use it to condense notes even further onto revision cards
– Use it to test each other!

Top Tips

To get the most from your revision guide, it must be used in the right way.

Make sure it contains enough of the course material to make it worthwhile. Some subjects have so much variation in content that only a fraction of what you may be studying could be in there.

Use it with your notes and as a support material whilst completing past papers.

Planning revision timetables

Helping a student to plan their own revision timetable is vital. We all know that some students can and will do this without any help, but most need a little push and support to make it happen.  By giving each student an example or template, it will really help show them how it’s done.

Below is a simple template for revising Monday-Friday. Each day is broken into 6 revision blocks. Each block lasts an hour but should be split into two chunks. This could be two different subjects altogether (For example, business studies and maths) or breaking up a subject into two units (For example, business studies AS unit 1 and unit 2) These sessions should have a 5-10 minute break between them to unwind and get organised. After each hour, there is a break. Lunch and Tea can be up to an hour, whereas the other breaks should be around 30 minutes. The day should end with a reward. Students should be encouraged to plan items to look forward to. This could as simple as playing on the computer, but they should feel like they earnt it.

This is a simple version and could be tweaked for each student. For example, some students may prefer to start revising later in the day and work later into the evening. It simply depends on when they are most productive.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

BREAK

LUNCH

BREAK

BREAK

TEA

FINISH- reward!

 

Once a rough idea is created like above, timings need to be added. This is down to the student; when do they work best? Ideally, the first sessions should start at 9.30am, allowing all revision to stop at 7pm, but it could be earlier or later.

Subjects need to be added in. A good idea to start with is to write down all the subjects that need to be revised, followed by the exams (units) in each one. This will make it easier to allocate time. Subjects should get roughly the same allocation, although Maths, English and Science may need a little more. These should then be split throughout the week with a mixture on each day.

Once it has been completed, it can be stuck up and shared with parents. Students should be discouraged from changing it regularly, but they may wish to make minor tweaks depending on how well each subject goes.

Managing stress

Earlier in 2014, mental health charity ‘Mindful’ announced that they had found a 10% increase in self harming within students aged 15-18. With many pressures placed on them, students are often under severe pressure from various people at home and at school. Helping students prepare, cope and deal with exams is vital.

1.       Preparation

Like most things in life, if students prepare in advance they can limit the of stress and pressure they face. Revision timetables, speaking to teachers and asking for help may all seem simple enough, but 1 in 3 students feel they have nowhere to turn. Below are some suggestions that could help;

– Why not do anonymous question sessions where students can raise issues or concerns without worrying about people laughing?
– Ask each student to produce a revision timetable?
– Allow students to experience an exam environment before the big day. This could be through mock exams, picking up results afterwards or simply being in the hall.

 

2.       Managing

There are some very god websites which help students manage their workload and stress. If students can get ready in advance, it will help reduce stress. The student room is a very good forum for students to discuss exams, subjects and potential resources. Get revising helps with the organisation and planning of revision.

Students should be encouraged to talk about their stress. They will soon realise that they are all feeling very similar emotions. This could be done as part of the schools PSHEE program, or in registration.  

 

3.       Help

Just making sure students know where to turn could help reduce stress and potentially worse situations.  Many students don’t know where to go for help and are worried about giving their name or others finding out. There are many websites which allow students to relax, chat and seek advice if needed.  Students should be encouraged to build in relaxation time into their revision timetable, as well as rewards and socialising. Students should not be encouraged to lock themselves away from the world! Sport and exercise is key at this time as this will keep them healthy and relaxed.

Why not produce a mini card of websites for each student which they can keep in their pocket or bag and use of need?

http://www.mindfull.org/

http://www.youngminds.org.uk/

http://www.childline.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx

http://www.thesite.org/

 

The most important thing is that students do not feel that they are alone in feeling stressed or that they have nowhere to turn.

 

 

 

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