Exams are a part of school whether you like it or not and your results can affect your future. The best way to prepare for GCSE exams is by revising and this guide has useful tips to help you to revise well and get the most out of your hard work.
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How well you do in your GCSEs can affect your future prospects – in education and in life. So, how can you prepare for them? By revising of course. But what’s the best way to revise? Look no further! This guide is full of useful tips to get the most out of your revision.
It’s easier to dedicate time to revision if you’ve made a timetable before you start. Make sure that each subject is given an appropriate amount of time and that you cover everything you’ve learned in class.
Variety is the spice of life – and it helps with revision too! Make sure that you don’t spend all day revising just one subject. It’s a good idea to spend no more than 45 minutes or so on one topic, then have a short break, before starting on another. Breaks are actually necessary – they give our brains time to reflect on the information they’ve taken in. If you don’t take regular breaks then your revision won’t be as effective.
Here’s a sample revision timetable I’ve made up to give you an example – feel free to make your own!
With exams approaching, time is a valuable commodity so don’t waste it! Firstly, start revising well before the exams are due – weeks or months before, not days. Once your revision break has arrived, then fill your days with revision – it’s not a holiday from learning! Treat each revision day as a day for working. Start early, that way you will have spare time for yourself in the evenings. If you don’t start revising until the afternoon then you’ll be more likely to stop studying before you have finished.
Once you have started your day’s revision then make sure you stick with it! Concentrate on what’s important – the contents of a diagram, for example, not on making it look pretty. And don’t procrastinate – tidying your desk is a job that should take a matter of seconds, not 15 minutes!
Spend around 45 minutes revising on one topic, then have a short break, before starting on another.
To revise well you need to find somewhere that is quiet and comfortable – without any distractions. Find somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, preferably with a desk. If your home has a study then that’s ideal. Alternatively you could use a library or your bedroom.
If you do revise in your bedroom then be careful to avoid any distractions. Keep the TV and radio switched off. Some people can revise to music. If you think it helps you then that’s fine – but beware of upbeat, singalong songs. Instrumental or classical music works best. Most of all, keep your mobile phone switched off too. ‘What!?’ I hear you say. Remember, you are spending the day working and you wouldn’t be using your mobile while you were at work would you?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that revision is all about reading textbooks or the notes you’ve made during the year. Of course, that is a major part of revision but you should also be making brand new notes.
The best way to remember something is to write it down. That doesn’t mean copy what you’ve read. Instead, read it and then make notes summarising the information in your own words. You might even want come back to the same piece of text more than once (weeks apart, preferably) and repeat the process. The more often you make notes about something, the better you will remember it.
Revision can seem like an endless drudge of work, work and more work! Just as you need breaks during revision, you also need to find time to relax. After a day’s studying treat yourself – see your friends, go to the cinema, relax with your family – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl.
Make time for physical activity too. Exercise helps us to sleep, to relax and (believe it or not) to learn. Even a brisk walk or a short bike ride will help. Exercise increases blood-flow and so supplies more oxygen to our brains. The result is a calmer mind, a healthier brain and a happier you!
The best way to see how well you’ll do in exams is to try taking some from previous years. This will show you the areas you know well and the ones you need to revise more. Your teacher might be able to supply some of these (ask them) or else you can find them online.
As well as letting you know your strengths and weaknesses, past papers also make you familiar with what is expected in exams, and the sort of thing required of you. You might also come across questions in your real exams which look a lot like the questions in previous exams – after all, it’s the same subject being tested in both.
Exams can be a worry, and when we’re worried we can’t think clearly. It’s OK to be nervous – just don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Whatever happens, don’t panic! Make sure you get plenty of sleep and make time to relax as well as to revise.
On the morning of the exams you might not feel like eating, but a healthy breakfast (bananas and porridge are good) will help you to think. And be careful who you hang around with. It may seem cruel, but if your friend is nervous then their worry might be contagious. If possible, surround yourself with calm and confident friends.
Don’t place too much importance on your exams. Yes, you want to do well but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. You might be able to re-sit any subjects you need and, if not, then remember this – many people made a success of their lives without doing well at school. It’s easier to get through life with GCSEs but it’s not impossible without them.
So, what’s the best way to revise for GCSE exams? Make time for revision, and make time to relax. Use your revision time wisely and make plenty of notes. It involves a good deal of dedication and hard work but it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Now, get back to your books and get down to work!
Find out more about secondary school in our extensive and informative National Curriculum In Secondary School article.
Once you’ve finished revising, you may like to take a look at Education Quizzes’ Knowledge Bank. It has answers to questions about education and all aspects of schooling. It also has dozens of articles packed with advice and tips for parents. It’s the place to go if you want to find out about the ins and outs of education.