Top tips for revison for the upcoming GCSE and A level Examinations
With the confusion and genuine concern over grades awarded; experienced by both GCSE and A Level students this August; many are now faced with a decision as to whether they retake exams this November. This will be a particularly unusual situation. Many may not have reviewed the content of their courses since March; whilst some will already have embarked on the next stage (A Level or Further Education).
Focus is key
Either way time will be short, and students will be looking for pointers. Revision this time will have to focus on areas of concern, rather than large swathes of the course. The first steps will be to carefully devise a short list of topics. These topics should then be compared against any revision notes. New flash cards, mind maps or summaries will have to be produced. The use of colour, embolding and cross-referencing will all be important.
Past paper questions
Students should then test their own knowledge against past paper questions, as they progress, to make sure they appreciate the types of questions they are going to face. (This is something students need to do early on in case their access to such questions now proves to be more difficult). All exam boards. e.g AQA make past paper questions and answers available online. Students must be careful to ensure they are accessing questions for their exact examination entry.
The revision process must allow students to both consolidate their knowledge and rigorously practise the application of their knowledge to more novel contexts. Experience shows that efficient use of past paper questions is vital here. Students need to be able to identify gaps in their knowledge, but more importantly focus on any pitfalls they come across in examination questions. The structure of examinations can be quite predictable. If students have made sure their revision focusses on this, then their confidence will grow.
If there proves to be some difficulties, then accessing online tuition may well be the answer. The range and accessibility of online tuition has expanded of late and there are some excellent options available in a wide range of subjects. The online biology tutor, for example, is readily available for A Level and GCSE.
Final Revsion tips
It is vital that a revision timetable is drawn up. Some students prefer 30-minute chunks of time, others an hour. Whatever time scale is chosen, the revision process needs to be constant, rigorous and achievable. The areas of concern identified in the initial review need to be carefully split up, allowing time for those all-important past paper questions. If time is really short, any tuition sought must also be included within this timetable.
Some students like to work alone, others like to discuss issues with their peers. Many revise with music, some need perfect silence. Again, there is no hard and fast rule here, just the realisation that you cannot cut corners. The time has to be put in and the process needs to be carefully planned and followed through.
Whether or not many students do take up the offer of these November examinations remains to be seen. One thing that is certain though, the skills and processes of revision will be vital ones that students will need to develop no matter what stage of education they have reached.