Now that the festive season is behind us thousands of teenagers are starting to refocus their attention at their forthcoming GCSE exams. For many this can be an anxious period in the school calendar as many have put-off revising or weren’t able to devote as much time as they’d hoped.
It’s common for nerves and the anticipation of the exam results to play on your mind. You don’t need us to tell you not to worry. That’s why we’re not going to, instead we’ve come up with 5 easy tips that’ll help you make the most of the short time you have remaining. Whether you’re on the tail end of your revision programme or just getting started, these tips could help make the difference.
Within your GCSE examins, markers are looking for candidates to evidence their understanding and demonstrate the ability to develop a reasoned argument. Many ‘how-to’ revision guides and articles will offer a full programme for GCSE revision, we could but we’re concentrating on those who don’t have that time.
Here’s your guide to last-minute GCSE revision:
1. Prioritise, prioritise… prioritise
Time is ticking so we need to prioritise between tasks, either on a sheet of A3 or on the calendar on your smart phone, enter all of your exam dates, location (hall no., classroom no., etc) and any other exam day information. Then work out the time remaining and issue yourself with challenging but achievable daily targets (study periods may vary depending on your daily commitments but remember this is your last chance to make a difference). Dedicate as much time as possible and stick to it, the effort and time you put in now will be reflected in the results you achieve at the end.
To encourage yourself to keep to these targets make your calendar public, stick your A3 sheet up in the kitchen or living room, or share your iCalendar dates on your smart phone with relatives. This will tie-you in to the targets you’ve set and involve everyone in your action plan. Sharing these dates will also lighten the pressure as you’ll be able to discuss your progress with your family.
2. Facts, figures and dates
If last-minute is an understatement, you’ll need to start with the facts, key dates, theories, iconic or memorable people and locations, etc. Begin with identifying the basic, core information, this will be easier to digest and will help you ease into your revision rather than attempting to wade through thick notepads or folders of black and white printouts.
Now you’re on the right track – starting was always going to be tough!
3. Do what works best for you
Throughout each term you receive endless printouts and bits of paper from your teachers. Now with the added load of past exam papers, revising could again feel like an uphill struggle.
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch you could try an online revision tool. There are loads out there so picking one that suits you is key. Visual and interactive resources are often the most effective – watching GCSE revision videos direct on your device can turn weighty subjects into bite-size clips that are easy-to-follow. LearnersCloud is one of the leading online resources for revision and exam prep as their tutor videos follow AQA, Edexcel and OCR exam specs and cover GCSE Maths, GCSE English, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics.
If you don’t have access to a smart device you’ll need to work from your notes and course textbooks.
4. Don’t waste time, revise what’s needed
Often handed out by your teacher at the start of each term, you should have an overview of your course syllabus, which lists all of the topics covered in your exam. If you can’t find these you can always access your exam boards specification online (AQA, Edexcel or OCR).
Once you’ve identified the key areas begin with refreshing your memory by reading through the end of topic summaries for each module in your course textbooks. Don’t worry if something feels completely new, for now this is only intended to help you establish the key facts, theories and points to cover.
If you’ve decided to use an online resource, make sure the content is separated by examination board. LearnersCloud categorises each clip by exam board and the unit it covers, useful if you’re really short on time.
5. Getting it done!
Now that we’ve established; how long we have left before the exams, how much time we aim to spend on revision each day, the key areas to cover and an approach to getting started – now we’ve got to get it done!
If you’ve reached this point of the article you’ll be shouting how! how!
We won’t hold you in suspense, here’s two options; one for those who prefer to use an online revision resource and the other, an offline method.
If you take anything away from this article, which we hope you do of course – take every opportunity that you have to revise; whether you’re on the bus or at home waiting for your favourite TV show to start make use of the time to learn, revise and test yourself.
Offline revision: Those of you who are revising with your own notes and the course textbooks we’d suggest you begin by collating your notes for each unit. If you don’t have these we won’t tut but your time will be stretched even more. Remember the end of topic summaries, you will need to work through each unit in your textbook and take notes on the key pieces of information. Try and be specific, limit your notes to the core points that’ll jog your memory when you’re reading back through.
Once you’ve finished try using flash cards or small blank cards to condense your notes down further. These handy cards are much more accessible and transportable than thick notepads and heavy textbooks. They also limit your space to write notes so you’re forced to read through each point and think about the meaning in order to accurately minimise the note made.
Online GCSE revision: If you’re using LearnersCloud and you’ve customised your course preferences you can start watching content online. All subscription types mean you can transfer the subscription to your Apple devices, so whether it’s on your Mac, iPhone or iPad you can watch lesson tutorials, test yourself with the end-of-topic questions and review what areas you need to spend more time on.
Whether you’re using an offline (flash cards) or online method - revision should be on going, at every opportunity read through or watch content specific to your exam board syllabus. This can help you work through difficult concepts and timeline stages of events. Repetition although not a tool for in depth learning can also help you to remember key points in the exam that then prompt your train of thought.
Final week before exams
This is crunch time, make or break, this could be the turning point for your future – ignore all of these clichés and statements, all they’ll do is create added pressure. You’ve revised the material; you’re still reinforcing your understanding – now it’s just the part to test all of that.
In your final week before your exams continue with these revision techniques but also look at past exam papers.
Always remember that starting can often be the hardest part. Go through the steps we’ve suggested, put the time and effort in and when the invigilator says “put down your pens” for the final time, you’ll know that you’ve done the most you could in the time you had remaining.
Remember to take every opportunity to revise – best of luck from us all!
LearnersCloud is an online GCSE revision provider of HD tutor-led videos and apps. Covering the UK’s leading examination boards; teachers can access easy-to-integrate classroom resources or recommend students an ideal resource for independent revision. To find out more follow @LearnersCloud or visit the blog: Insights from the Cloud.