GCSEs are slowly creeping up and so I wanted to share some revision tips and tricks before it’s too late. This doesn’t just apply to those who are doing their GCSEs this year, or even GCSEs at all, what ever year and whatever exams you’re taking, here are some of my tips and tricks for revising:
- START NOW! – Whether you’re doing your exams this year or you’ve still got another year or two to go, start as soon as possible. If you’re doing your exams this year, I recommend you start revising daily. It doesn’t have to be 6 hours on top of your school day, but even just an hour or two extra. However, I do recommend to start building up your revision hours gradually. Some of these tips you can build in to your day so your don’t have to do a solid two hours or so after school, or it could mean you have extra revision time after school if you wish. If you’re in another year and aren’t doing your exams this year, I still recommend using some of the tips I give to revise maybe daily, but maybe not so intensely.
- REVIEW YOUR CLASS NOTES EACH DAY – This can help get the information stuck in your head. You would have learnt it already that day so it will be fresh in your mind and then anything you still don’t understand, you can begin to seek help with. At this point, it would also be a good idea to start flashcards so you can spend more time in the future testing yourself and also using other methods to revise.
- On the topic of revising now, REVISE FOR END OF TOPIC/VOCAB TESTS – I really wish I did this more when I was in the lower years! If you are in your exam year, you should really start doing this, and for those not in exam year, I am begging you to start doing this! It may seem annoying and ‘pointless’ now, but the more you get it into your head from the beginning, the less time you will have to spend going over it when in your exam year.
- WRITE A TIMETABLE OR TO-DO LIST – Some people may find a more structured weekly timetable helpful, others a to-do list written each day. Find what works for you. Everyone seemed to use revision timetables but I didn’t feel this worked for me. It’s okay if what other people are doing doesn’t work for you. You can figure out different ways to do it.
- WRITE LISTS – Whether this is a daily to-do, or a huge list of absolutely everything you need to do before exams, lists can help you keep organised.
- GET YOURSELF READY BEFORE REVISING – Have a shower, get dressed, put make-up on if you wish. Whatever makes you feel up and awake (as much as possible at least). I think it’s best to avoid clothes like pyjamas as you want to feel more awake rather than in clothes that you might sleep or lounge in. Wear things you might leave the house in, like jeans and a shirt. But I also understand you may want to feel comfy whilst working so try to combine smart and comfy clothes together. Just get yourself ready!
- DELETE OR LOG OUT OF SOCIAL MEDIA – I highly recommend this when the studying begins to get more intense and during exam periods. It doesn’t mean you can’t go on it, but it just requires more effort to go on it so if you are using your phone for revision, you don’t just end up scrolling through some Instagram or Facebook feed. Social media can actually be beneficial when it comes to studying, for example using Facebook messenger to contact friends on a subject you need help with. It just depends on your reason for social media and how much self control you have.
- USE A TIMER – A tip you’ve probably heard is to study in 20-30 minute blocks. Set a timer for your preferred time. If attention span is poor, try 20 minutes rather than 30 minutes. And then have a five minute break. If your self control isn’t great, you may want to time it.
- SWITCH UP YOUR REVISION AREA – Whether this means going to a Café instead of studying at home or revising at your desk sometimes and the kitchen table other times, it can be useful to change where you revise. Sometimes getting out can improve productivity and may help boost your mood a little. You don’t have to limit yourself just to the desk in your bedroom.
- MUSIC – Some people may prefer to study in silence and others cannot stand the silence. If you dislike the silence, add some music. Preferably classical or soundtracks without lyrics but it can vary on what your concentration is like. There are sites and apps where you can have an ambient such as Rainy Mood (Rain) and Ambient Mixer (Linked is Gryffindor common room ambient!)
- HARDEST STUFF FIRST – Once you get the most dreaded stuff out of the way, you feel you can relax more. Though it’s important you don’t spend each and every study session on these hard things. If you still haven’t understood it after your first study session on them, more on to your next topic or subject and come back to that hard thing the next day. The main point, is always begin with the hardest. That means you can devote more time to it later if needed. Do the easy stuff first and you might not be able to devote as much time into the hard things.
- MAKE IT AS ENJOYABLE AS POSSIBLE – If you’re a creative person, you may want to put in a little more time just to do some pretty diagrams and mind-maps, or go to a café to revise, or revise by doing quizzes with friends. Studying and revision can be made a little bit more bearable! You don’t just have to stick to sitting at your desk, copying out notes!
- FIND METHODS THAT WORK FOR YOU – There’s no point in doing mind-maps if you absolutely despise them and not getting anything from them! Make sure to find the ways of revising that work for you! There are so many options out there!
- PAST PAPERS – Is the one method you really should do. I personally hated them, but it gets you used to exams question styles and being able to answer them questions. It can also help to get your timings sorted for the actual exams, especially on papers with longer written answers like English.
- REVISE ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE – Recall information when you see certain things. For example, for languages, remind yourself what the French word is for apple when you see an apple. And if you’re waiting for a doctors appointment, there’s always posters on things like lungs and smoking and diabetes in waiting rooms so you can revise a bit of science then. Just doing simple things like this can actually really help. The more you get into the habit of doing it, the more you will naturally do it.
- USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE– Whether this is a reminder to revise or some actual information, use your phones lockscreen and reminders to your benefit. And there are plenty of apps so you can revise on-the-go such as Quizlet and Memrise. You could always just take photos of your notes and revision so you can look at that too! YouTube can be beneficial, especially for trying to understand the hard stuff! Sometimes you just need someone different to explain it to you in a different way. These are also YouTube channels which provide loads of study tips such as Study With Jess.
- REWARD YOUSELF – Reward yourself after a study session by making a cup of tea, reward yourself after a day of studying by having a lovely long bath and reward yourself after your exams for all that hard work you’ve put in!
Now, these tips and tricks are my personal opinions and what I have found has either worked for me, or just, quite simply, ideas. There’s no scientific proof or anything behind these. Feel free to add any of your own study tips in the comments! Good luck!
Lucy 🙂 x