Tips for A Level Revision
St Benedict's Headmaster, Andrew Johnson, gives his advice on how best to revise for A level exams.
So, the Easter holidays have arrived. The time has come to revise, test your understanding, practise your timed essay writing and consolidate your learning.
So, where do you start?
Firstly, it’s important to approach revision with the right mindset. Be positive, embrace it with enthusiasm and try not to see the Easter holidays as some kind of punishment. After all, you chose to study these subjects, so tell yourself it’s all REALLY INTERESTING. (Which it is.)
Spend time preparing a revision plan, using your subject revision lists, and try to stick to it assiduously. Be realistic in allocating the material to the time available, and include mini goals. A good plan will give you confidence that everything you need to know is covered.
Remember, revision is not one giant step but lots of small steps: a process of distillation, reduction and refinement - from notes, to bullet points, and sometimes even to one word. Often, you are processing the information in a way that makes sense for you. If flash cards and post-it notes help, then use them. Draw up concept and mind maps, and refer to them regularly to cement your learning.
Try to keep your revision active: test yourself, and apply your learning, by completing past papers and timed essays. Ask yourself questions, and get someone to test you. Review topics already revised by going over them quickly again the next day. This will help to reinforce and embed your learning.
It also helps to talk through and explain complex formulae, concepts and topics to anyone who will listen (event the cat), to clarify your own understanding. You will soon find that, if you are not absolutely clear in your own mind about the facts, the other person will be even more confused than you!
Persevere and reward yourself along the way, to stay motivated. If you have to miss a few hours and your revision plan seems to be collapsing, keep going and try to get back on track again.
Finally, it is so important to create the right learning environment for your revision. Sit at a desk, or a table – this immediately puts you in the right frame of mind. Sofas might be very inviting but they are not associated with active learning, thinking and academic rigour! Neither is the garden, however much the sun is shining. (You can sun-bathe later, once you’ve revised…) Make sure you are sitting in good light, away from all distractions. It goes without saying, I’m afraid, that your beloved phone will distract you, so put it in a drawer where it can’t compete for your attention.
Exercise is essential. It will help you to stay positive and to think clearly. Include in your daily routine something you enjoy; a swim, perhaps, or a game of squash - even a brisk walk around the park. And if you can meet up with some friends at the same time, so much the better.
Finally, it’s important to eat and sleep well. Try to avoid eating too much sugar, which can make you feel tired. The brain likes routine, so establish a daily pattern which works for you, getting at least eight hours sleep each night
You can do this!