With exam season underway, it is inevitable that nervous students will bombard teachers with questions concerning revision techniques. What are the best revision techniques? How can I revise correctly? How many practice exam questions should I complete? Are there compulsory revision sessions during the school holidays? Miss, could you just do my exam for me please? Then I would definitely get a good mark…
It goes without saying that the best advice when preparing for any exam is to start early in the day. The mind is less distracted. Create a revision timetable to adopt a routine; revision becomes less of a chore when conducted as part of a routine. Take regular breaks to avoid mind numbness, and do not forgo well-known topics in favour of topics that are not so well known. All are important.
Not all students thrive using a formal examination model, but that is another debate entirely. If students are struggling to find a technique that works for them, why not try one from our list? Don’t worry, none directly involve a highlighter!
Encourage students to recall knowledge of a topic without warning by setting a short, quick-fire quiz at the start of a lesson or revision session. Students will need to recall knowledge without the luxury of revisiting a topic beforehand, helping to target their revision and highlight respective strengths and weaknesses in their knowledge base. Prepare a number of quiz questions for students to complete as part of their own revision, and encourage students who revise as part of a group to test each other using the questions.
A familiar and effective tool, if used properly. In some cases, students lumber flashcards with too much information, preventing true recall. Students are either overwhelmed with the information they need to remember, or mistake recognition for actual knowledge. Encourage students to make their own flashcards, and to mix words and images to increase awareness. Saying answers out loud before checking the flashcard also acts as a mini-quiz, so that students commit to an answer before checking it.
Adding to the success of visual learning, encourage your students to use graphic organisers to revise knowledge and work on exam technique. Whether it is a mind map, a spider diagram, or a flow chart, building knowledge of a subject stage by stage can help trigger a stream of consciousness that would not be possible by simply answering questions. When the diagram is complete, students are then able to see a visual representation of their thoughts, aiding logical processes when answering exam questions.
Note taking: Cornell Method
Developed in the late 1940s at Cornell University, the Cornell Method helps to simplify note-taking when learning a new topic, or when revising for examination. The method involves splitting the page into three sections; one for general notes, the second for short cues and keywords relating to the notes, and the third a summary section for the notes and cues. The method promotes the use of short sentences, symbols and abbreviations, concise ideas and thoughts, instead of simply copying notes verbatim from the teacher. By using this method, students can revise without superfluous or irrelevant information included within their notes. Their notes, therefore, become a suitable revision study guide.
Just a minute
Yes, the premise of the radio game show can be used as a revision technique! The same rules apply; students have to talk about a topic for a minute without any gaps, hesitations, or pauses. Weaknesses in certain subject areas become apparent, which will help direct students’ revision in the future.
The tried and tested method: good old-fashioned practice exam questions. Set students questions long before their exam so that they become accustomed to the layout, style and wording of each question and how to adapt when these variables change. Make students handwrite answers. All written content is created using a word processor now, so making students practice their handwriting will increase legibility for examiners and improve stamina for students during the exam.
We would like to wish all students the very best of luck for their exams this term!