Revision Strategies for Exams – do you need some ideas? Do you have exams coming up after the break?
One of the things that is heartbreaking from the perspective of a teacher is when you give a student back their mock exam paper and they are distraught with their grade. You know that they have worked very hard in preparing for the exam and yet, it has not paid off. That gives me the feels, as they say. So what has gone wrong? Why have they gone into the exam, feeling that they have worked hard and are ready for it, but they have not achieved the grade they feel they deserved and are capable of? Perhaps this is you? You know exactly what I am talking about? Check out my mindmap of revision strategies for exams.
Revision Strategies for exams – Work smarter, not harder.
One of the mistakes made by students who work hard but not necessarily smart, is that they spend a lot of time making notes and reading through their notes. They spend a lot of time writing endless revision cards with a lot of words on them. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way knocking having good notes, but if it is the bulk of what are doing, that may be one of the reasons why you are not getting the grades you want. Understanding how to revise will help you to spend less time working, for greater gain. Let’s look at my Mindmap of Revision Strategies to get a picture of the process.
The first thing to do is to review what it is that you need to place you in the best position for the exam. What it is it that you need to know and be able to do? Looking through your exam specificiation, revision guide or perhaps you have topic checklists. The next step is to review where you are currently in terms of how confident and successful you are with topics and different areas within topics. Rate them: the traffic light system is an excellent way of doing this. An evaluation along the lines of definitely OK, mostly OK, mostly not OK, definitely not OK also works well. Once you know what you know, and know what you don’t know, and you have discovered what you didn’t know you don’t know you can make a plan to put yourself in a better position.
Revision strategies for exams must include some methods for recall. You cannot apply what you don’t know, so making time just to learn it is important. The first step is to become aquainted with the knowledge and it can be done through reading, videos, listening in class, to others expalining it to us. Other revision strategies for exams must include techniques for memorising. Learning games, making mind maps, question and answer games with peers or family, self learning look/cover/write/check activities. Noticing and learning patterns can help minimise trying to learn by rote a large quantity of information. For more ideas on how to use these activities, download my Revision Strategies for Exams Mindmap pdf and receive subsequent suggestions on how to use them. The Memory Palace is another technique to help with memorising.
Understanding the concepts and being able to apply them is probably the area where students feel that they need the most help. It is certainly an area where the intervention of experts, such as a tutor or teacher can be very helpful. The learning conversation with someone experienced can help to uncover your misconceptions: where you think you understand, but may not have grasped the full depth of the material and how to apply it. The tutor will help to build in the steps to lead you from where you are to where you need to be to apply your knowledge accurately and effectively. Other revision strategies for exams to help with understanding include:
- listening to lessons
- talking with others – peers or teachers/tutors,
- watching online tutorials,
- trying questions and marking them
- scribbling. I always have a pencil and scrap paper when I am studying so that I can check things out as I go. One student I knew used scribbling as a way of memorising. It was his way of using look/cover/write/check.
The most efffective revision strategies for exams will also include attention to the accuracy of written expression. You can help yourself here by practicing exam questions and checking your answers against the mark scheme. Exam practice is one of the most effective ways of improving your grade. Paying attention to command words, what they require and actively noticing them in the question is helpful. Consciously using thinking and planning tools such as Venn diagrams and PEE (or PEA) will ensure you put enough detail in longer written response. Feedback from an expert, such as a tutor or teacher, is also one of the most effective strategies for exam success. It is the learning conversation around the accuracy of written communication which is one of the most powerful ways to help you to improve your grade.
In addition to good teaching, my work as a tutor builds on these two foundations of exam practice and feedback. If you think you might benefit from one to one tuition or being part of a small group tutorial, contact me or book through my website. You can also schedule a time directly through my calendar.
Revision Strategies for Exams – Summary
If you are spending a lot of time writing and reading notes you may not be using the best revision strategies for your exams. There are more effective revision strategies to help you to get the grade you deserve. For sure, they may be more challenging, but exams can also be. Dr. M Chemistry Tutor can help you to develop and use the strategies that work best for you.