The GCSE exams start at the beginning of May and as there are so many subjects being examined they go on well into June. With such a long period of exams, it is important to plan ahead how and when your GCSE revision takes place. Remember, revision is a marathon, not a sprint.
When should you start revising?
Revision isn’t the same for everyone, as each student learns and retains information differently. But the time has now come that all students sitting their GCSE’s in 2015, should be starting to get serious about revision.
This doesn’t mean that students should immediately be revising for hours every night and weekend, as it is important to phase in revision. Also, schoolwork is ongoing and there will be coursework to complete still, so finding spare time will be harder at this stage. However, setting aside an hour or two per week to begin revising is a good idea. This can be increased as school and coursework diminishes or switches to revision over the next few months. In fact, the amount of time allocated to each subject studied probably won’t change that much from week to week, but the time spent on coursework or homework will become time spent revising. Thus, students should expect to spend between one and two hours a week revising each subject on top of their lesson time.
What about study leave?
GCSE study leave is somewhat the stuff of myth and legend, but a few schools used to allow students to spend extended periods of time at home to revise. This has mainly been phased out now, as schools realised that many students found it difficult to focus at home. As such, any study leave that still occurs tends to start around half term at the most dense period of exams, so leaves little time for revision.
However, there will be a revision focus within normal lessons during this time. Many teachers will have finished teaching their courses and have scheduled revision lessons, individual study time or group revision activities.
What about using the time between the exams?
Students might think that they have time to revise during the exam period, particularly if the exams they are taking are spread out over the two-month period. However, many students will find that they have a dense period of exams on either side of half term. As such, once they get into this period there is much less revision time than they thought. In fact they may have two or three exams on the same day during these weeks, depending on their options. After this intensity of exams, any revision that evening is unlikely to make any real difference.
As a result, it’s best to think of this time as ‘top-up’ revision time where students go back over their revision and check they still remember the information and skills needed.
How can you best use revision time at home?
If the school has structured revision for students then often just completing homework can make up a sizeable slice of revision. This may not be the case, however, or a student may find they need more detailed revision. In fact many schools don’t dictate a revision timetable, so relying on your teacher to get you through is not a good idea on its own.
Some schools now offer online revision websites or systems to support students. Each student will be given a login, which allows them to access revision notes, online questions and tests and revision games and activities. Some of these websites provide gentle competitiveness and allow schools to challenge each other using well designed games and quizzes. Whilst these don’t provide the depth of understanding that might be needed, they provide an accessible resource that students can use to assess and support their independent learning. Schools can set work using these systems to structure their revision, but in many cases it is left up to the student to identify what they need to revise.
Many students prefer to revise from a book or revision guide rather than work online and schools often sell low cost revision books for each subject to help students know what they may be examined on. Whatever materials work best for an individual; these methods all require independent revision. As a result, some students will find it difficult to engage with or maintain enthusiasm in the period before the exams.
For these students, it may be necessary to guide them more and provide a structure that they can work within. Whilst revision plans and schedules can work, having a scheduled time with a study partner or a tutor can also provide this structure. Having a tutor can make a significant different to a students ability to digest and retain information. Not only do they provide the structure and momentum to keep revision happening, but they also provide the specialist knowledge and understanding for their specialist subjects. This enables students to work with them to discover how they can improve their grades in the most efficient and achievable way.
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