How to start your revision

Exams are getting closer, and students should definitely be starting to ramp up their revision around about now. This article looks at what kind of revision students should be doing, and why it’s effective - we’ll have another article on practice papers soon.

How To Revise

Have your exam timetable ready

Put your exam timetable in your calendar

Put your exam timetable in your calendar

Make sure you know when all of your exams are and put them into your calendar - and then put them in a second time, a few weeks before the actual exams. This means you can schedule a dummy-run of your exams a few weeks before you take them - this is a perfect time to do a practice paper under exam conditions for every exam.

As well as the normal benefits of practice papers, this also helps you get used to what the actual exam period is like. If you have three 9am exams in a row in May, it’s good to practice doing this in April first - just like professional footballers train at 3pm to prepare for 3pm kick offs, you should try to revise the most at the same time as your exams.

Focus on your weaknesses

A key aspect of revision is focussing on your weaknesses. It’s very easy to end up studying the topics and subjects you enjoy, and are therefore probably better at, but these aren’t the areas you really need to improve. You’ll also improve faster and more if you prioritise your weak areas; there’s more ground to gain, and so it’s easier to improve.

If you need any help on finding weaknesses, we cover that here - but essentially you can look through the exam specification or work through a practice paper, finding the areas you aren’t confident with. You can also ask your parent or teacher to look at Tassomai’s understanding grid for red and orange dots.

Make sure you don’t completely ignore your strengths though! Although you should prioritise your weaker areas, you still need to spend some time on the areas you are already good at.


The “Pomodoro” technique

A Pomodoro (tomato) kitchen timer, after which the method is named.    Image Source

A Pomodoro (tomato) kitchen timer, after which the method is named. Image Source

The Pomodoro technique was developed in the late 1980s, and is shown to be an extremely effective way to work. It helps break up stretches of work into manageable chunks, while making sure you don’t take overly long breaks.

  • Choose the task you want to focus on (in this case, the topic to revise)

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes, put your phone on airplane mode, and work until it goes off

  • Set your timer for 5 minutes, and have a break - but only for 5 minutes

  • Repeat this until you’ve done four “pomodoros”

  • Have a 30 minute break

  • Start again


Flashcards

One of the main principles behind Tassomai is that learning is more effective if the information is broken down into small, digestible bits of information - and this is the same with flashcards. We would recommend creating flashcards for all the subjects you aren’t using Tassomai for.

You can also get creative with when and where you use them, and get your friends and family to test you on them. If your friends are testing you, then you will both learn from them, so this is even more helpful!


Listen to yourself

One final revision tip is to record yourself reading your notes aloud and save this on your phone. You can then listen to this when travelling to and from school, making sure you aren’t wasting any time when you could be revising.


We hope you find this article helpful - we’ll discuss how to use practice papers effectively next time!


Want to find out more about the most effective ways to revise?

One of the most well known experts on effective revision strategies is Professor John Dunlosky of the department of psychological sciences at Kent State University, Ohio. His work informed much of the thinking behind Tassomai and the way the program works.

Listen to professor John Dunlosky on BBC Radio 4 talking about which revision techniques actually work (1:30 - 8:45)

Here’s an article in TES if you’d rather read about Professor Dunlosky’s work

 

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