Tutor tips: how to optimise revision time

When exams are looming, revision can seem scary.  It can be easy to panic and worry that you don’t have enough time to familiarise yourself with all the topics and prepare for the exam. So what can you do to prepare well?

Structured tutoring

It can be overwhelming when you consider how much you need to get through.  One of the things a tutor can assist you with is guiding you through drawing up a revision timetable and organising your notes. Breaking down time and setting achievements are all very important and having a tutor to help you do this can be very valuable. Subject-specific tutoring can also be a great way of helping you to tackle those areas where you just feel really ‘stuck’.  It can also be helpful to re-cover ground covered in class, with a subject-expert, that you didn’t quite understand.

Revision techniques

Revision in itself is a skills and there are good and bad ways to do it. Reading over notes and trying to absorb information in unlikely to work well.  However, there are tried and tested methods that a tutor can help you to use. These include such as mind mapping, working through practice exam papers, using memory techniques and engaging in focused essay practice. Sometimes approaching a subject a new or different in a different way can really help students to remember a concept or topic.

Mnemonics can also be very helpful.  This is the study and development of systems for improving and assisting the memory. In essence, it helps you to condense large amounts of information into key memorable points. For example, let’s imagine we are revising the four underlying causes of World war 1.  There were four underlying causes of war; Nationalism, Imperialism, Militarism and Alliances.  To help you remember this, you could make up a word or phrase to help you to remember these points.   The word ‘NIMA’, for example, has the first letter of each of these points as a memory prompt. Alternatively, we could rearrange the order and make a crazy fun sentence that is memorable to you.  This could be anything, such as ‘Insects May Not Age’ – each word stands for one of the key points you need to remember. Sometimes the crazier the mnemonic, the easier it is to remember!

Active vs passive revision

It is possible to colour notes and organise folders yet not really engage with content. The best revision is active, recalling knowledge and actually applying it. So, for example, if you have just revised a Maths topic on ratios, rather than staring at the text book, why not have a go at tackling some past paper maths questions about ratios?  This will help you to see if you can retain that knowledge and put it into practise.  Or if you are revising for English GCSE, why not have a go at setting yourself an essay and writing it under timed conditions? Revision is always best when it is fully active!

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