Preparing for exams can be stressful! Whether you're learning for Edexcel, OCR or AQA, here are some tips to help!
Practice good habits ✅
It’s important not to let revision take over all of your time. Sleeping sufficiently (and avoiding late-night cramming) has been shown to improve memory, and eating, drinking lots of water and taking regular breaks will keep you energised through your revision sessions.
Make your work space better 🌞
The key to learning effectively is creating an environment where you can really focus. This means removing any distractions from around you, and also giving yourself the space you need. There are a few things to try here:
- Don’t listen to music. If you must, only listen to music without lyrics!
- Sit at a desk in an upright chair. When you are upright, you are alert.
- Tidy your desk! Tidying puts your mind at ease
- Hide your phone in another room
- Have snacks and a drink near you so you don’t have to keep leaving the room
Understand where you’re making mistakes📝
Maths at GCSE, in lots of cases, involves taking mini-steps on the way to solving a problem. Focus on understanding what is happening at each of these steps, and how they fit into the problem. Learn to apply these steps to similar problems, so you have a process through which you can break down the types of questions that come up in the exam.
Stairway enables you to practice mathematical problems by focusing on each step, and showing you where you went wrong if you make a mistake.
Start doing practice papers sooner than you think 📆
It can feel as though you should understand everything before you start doing practice papers. However, it is almost always better to be doing them from the start of your revision period.
Here are a few pointers for how to approach past papers:
- Use past papers as a learning tool: structure some of your revision based on your mistakes in the papers
- Be sure to time yourself and be honest about your timing and your score
- Make sure you don’t finish all of the past papers available right at the beginning when you start revising, and don’t leave them all until the week before the exam either. Pace them evenly throughout your revision
- Look carefully at the topics which are most common across papers from different years. These are the core topics, and the ones that you can be sure will come up — be sure to be confident with these topics
- Look at the marks given for each question. Marks are not only given for the final answer, but for how you work something out. Be sure to be aware of what you need to include in order to get full marks! If you can’t answer the whole question, you can gain marks for doing some of the working out
Target your revision
It’s important to make sure you’re making the most of your revision time. Focusing on your weakest topics will enable you to make the most progress during a revision session.
Plan your revision in advance, so that you know what you’re going to be tackling before you start. Some people find the Pomodoro Technique effective for maintaining focus and productivity throughout the day.
Learn well enough that you can explain it to your youngest family member 🙋♂️
A famous scientist called Richard Feynman, one of the greatest minds of the last century, came up with a technique for learning. His method was to continue learning something until you‘re able to explain it so simply that a five-year-old could understand it.
How can you do this in practice?
- Learn something and then write it down (without copying) in the simplest language possible
- Repeat this process and make it simpler each time
- Explain it to your family or a friend using what you wrote down in the simplest language possible, and make sure they understand it. If they don’t, then start again! Teaching someone else can help you to understand something more deeply, especially if you can answer their questions.
Don’t just use highlighters 🖍
It can feel like you’re being effective when you are producing beautiful colour coded notes. However, the colour often doesn’t add much to your ability to learn! Rather than just highlighting things, try some of these ideas:
- Produce flashcards for the things you find hardest to remember. Make sure they are small enough to fit in your pocket, and carry them around with you. Test yourself on them a few times a day — this can be while you are waiting for something, in the car or even if you are looking for time away from relatives! This is called spaced repetition, and is scientifically proven to improve your ability to memorise.
How do you revise best? We would love to hear some of your ideas! Add a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give the best ones a shoutout on social media!
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