Revision – love it or hate it, it’s important to ensure exam success. And yet it’s something that teachers rarely teach, perhaps because they’re not sure how to revise either.
Two great books for learning how to learn and revise are A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley and Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger an McDaniel. A Mind for Numbers is the easier read (and you can take a free online Coursera course for this), and both books are based on the latest cognitive science research, but if you don’t have time to read these then the best tips are below:
- Don’t just read or highlight your book or notes. You think you’re learning but you’re not.
- Revise without the TV on or other distractions such as your phone. You need to focus.
- Revise in short sessions up to 25 minutes long, and take short 5-10 minute breaks between study sessions. This is called the Pomodorro technique and really helps to focus you. If you don’t fancy revising at all just tell yourself that you’ll do one 25 minute session (or Pomodorro) and no more if you still don’t feel like revising. More often than not, after getting started you’ll get into the swing of it.
- Test yourself. A great way to do this is to use flashcards, where you make cards with a question on one side and the answer on the other. Then you shuffle them and test yourself. The process of testing yourself really helps you to learn, and it’s a technique that I relied on greatly during University. You can also make digital flashcards which you can access on your phone, tablet and computer.
- After going through a section in a textbook, revision guide or your notes, try to summarise the main points without looking at the text. If you struggle then go back
- Reward yourself. Hopefully you’ve got a realistic revision plan or schedule (if not, make one!). Tell yourself that if you stick to it then you can have a reward, such as a day off revision a week or anything you enjoy. For me it’s cheesecake! Tell your parents, grandparents and anyone else around you. That way you’re more likely to stick to it.