10 Essential Revision Strategies and Tips
“How should I revise for my examinations?” There is no one method that suits each and every student. However, these tips – with input from educators and successful students – will help you formulate a revision plan to tackle the challenges ahead.
1. Know the Exam Syllabus and structure
Early in the year, schools usually provide detailed information on exam syllabus and structure including the question type (MCQ, short answer, long answer etc). If you don’t have this information, check with the form teacher or the school website.
2. Know your strengths and weakness
Review your previous assessment results and additional feedback (if any) from teachers. Write two lists – one with the topics that you’ve comfortable with and second list with topics that require more work and practice. Target to more all topics in the second list to the first.
3. Set realistic targets and expectations
Based on your current performance and progress, decide on your revision targets. While the ideal scenario is to tackle all weak areas and turn ‘good’ areas into excellent ones, this may not be realistic. You need to strike a balance between having sufficient practice for stronger subjects and topics, while tackling problems areas (and addressing poor habits such as careless mistakes). Similarly, if you are aiming for improvements in grades, aim for a target that you could reasonably achieve, provided you work steadily right up to the exams. You want to feel inspired and motivated by the challenges ahead, and not to feel overwhelmed or jittery before you even start your revision.
4. Plan your revision schedule
Know how much time you can allocate to revision – after taking away school hours and other activities. Plan a revision programme that allows time to cover the key exam topics, with more time allocated to the trickier topics.
5. Be prepared – Body and Mind
Get regular, nutritious meals, sleep at least 8-9 hours per night and exercise as well. In addition, be mentally prepared. Are you ready to make the necessary adjustments and impose self-discipline during the period that lies ahead? Some students abstain from all ‘distractions’ such as outings and computer games during the weeks leading up to an exam, while others simply cut down. Decide what works for you – a total ‘fast’ or little leisure breaks in between revision sessions.
6. Create the right study environment
The simplest recipe for revision disaster is usually a television in the background or siblings playing noisily. If it is not conducive for you to study at home, find another place – study rooms at a nearby community club, the library or your school. Many schools stay open late during exam periods and even hold ‘study camps’. Have sufficient stationery such as notecards, highlighters etc. Clear up the clutter on your desk, leaving only the stationery and books that you need.
7. Identify the relevant points within each topic
Some students highlight whole chunks of text or scribble numerous sidenotes – DON’T. Note what key points are emphasized in class, go through these points in your resources, and where possible, recite or rewrite them in your own words so as to test for understanding. The summaries at the end of each chapter can be useful in hightlighting what you MUST know. However, don’t skip chapters and reply only on summaries, as these may not give you a full understanding of relevant concepts and more importantly, how to apply them.
8. Read, Rewrite, Remember, Recall…and APPLY
Use these 4Rs:
– Read the information or fact;
– Rewrite the relevant points or summarise it in your own words;
– Commit it to memory (Remember);
– Recall it by reciting it out loud or writing it out. Mind maps can also help you to organize information more systematically. However, doing well in exams necessitates APPLYING the concepts learnt. Get in loads of practice and don’t be discouraged, even if a lot of mistakes are made along the way
9. Work in break times
Work in breaks of 5-10 minutes every 40 minutes – do some stretching, stand on toes and breathe deeply, take a cool drink of water. If you’re revising at home, take a peek at what other family members are doing and chat for a bit. You don’t need to isolate yourself; just remember to stick to your ‘battle plan’ and hit the books again when break time is over.
10. Stay Positive!
This applies to all – parents, teachers, and most of all, the students who are sitting for the exams. Revision may not be the most exciting part of the scholastic route, but it will not last forever. Remember that – each day along the journey is another day towards its completion.