We spent all of December sharing study tips and revision advice over on our Facebook Page. We’ve picked out the best ones to recap here so you can find them easily whenever you need a bit of guidance
Set Some Goals
Write out the subjects or exams you are studying for, and the grades you are working towards in each one. Then under each, write a list of the topics you’ll need to understand, plus the question formats and techniques you’ll need to practise for the exam.
Outlining specific goals will help you to plan your studying and to see that you’re making progress.
Plan, but don't over plan
It’s very important to plan your revision based on your goals. Use a calendar and add in the time, subject and topic. And don’t worry too much about having the perfect plan, because you’ll always need to make changes. Keep a note after each session of what you achieved, and then you can be confident that your updated plan doesn’t leave anything out.
Mix up passive and active techniques
Reading, listening, and copying are all ‘passive’ forms of revision, which let you take in information. Mix these techniques up with ‘active’ ones like writing summaries, explaining to other people, and practising questions. For example, read a chapter of your book , then write out the key ideas, without looking at the book. You need to combine the two to make sure you’re revising well.
Choose your music wisely
You don’t have to study in silence, unless you want to! Choose a playlist of familiar songs, and keep the volume fairly low – to keep you parents happy and to help you focus. Some scientific research has shown that listening to classical music can help you concentrate, so if the words in your favourite songs are distracting, then you could try a bit of Mozart instead.
Memorise key facts
Make sure you’re reading your notes carefully if you have information you need to memorise. Read through a few times, maybe even out loud. Write out the facts word for word a few times – by hand, rather than typing – to help ingrain them in your memory. Then put your notes away and see what you can remember – make a mind map or a poster, or just write down everything you know. Give your notes or mind map to a family member and have them quiz you on key points. Mnemonics can be helpful too – your teacher may have some good ones, or you can make up your own. A mnemonic is simply a clever phrase or word you use to help you rember something – like ‘My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets’ gives you Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the correct order.
Practise model answers
Using past papers, or example questions for your teachers, practise writing out a really detailed and thorough answer, with the help of your notes, to use as a model. Start by analysing the question – figuring out which key words are important, and what phrases you’ll need to use for that question type. Come up with ideas of things to bring into your answer, and try to make sure you include a counter arguement, where the question is coming from a particular angle.
Once you’ve done this preparation, you can write out and polish your model answer. Working through these techniques will make it easier to do in the exam, and depending on how well the questions match up, they may even save you some time.
Make sure you keep some questions for the end of your revision period so that you can practise them under exam conditions – get somewhere quiet that you won’t be disturbed, put away your notes, and time yourself to see if you get your answer finished fast enough.
Summarise your notes
When reading through your notes, make sure you’re processing the information properly by writing out summaries of the information. Then in your next study session, see how much you can remember of the detail, just by looking at your summary version. You can also use mind mapping, and flash cards, to help you break down complicated information and make sure you understand it.
Group study sessions
Get some friends together to study the same subject. You can quiz each other, share notes, and help explain things. Even if your friends don’t share your classes, studying with someone else will help keep you focussed – you can call each other out if you get distracted.
Creating flashcards forces you to break down information into manageable chunks. Put a heading on one side and some summarised notes, formulas, facts etc, on the other. Then flip through the cards using the headings as prompts to recall as much information as you can. You can test yourself or go through them with someone else.
Put away your phone
Turn your phone on silent and leave it in another room. Notifications are distracting and you need to be able to concentrate to absorb information. It can be tempting to take a quick Snapchat break, but 2 minutes quickly turns to 20 and burns through your studying time. Instead, walk to the kitchen for a drink of water, or stand up and look out the window if you need to take a short breather.