The new school year is already underway, and for some students, thoughts of important exams will not be far away. If you are entering your GCSE or A-level year, or simply hoping to improve your school grades, here are some of the revision techniques it's worth trying.
Last-minute cramming has long been the bad habit of the student, but planning ahead is essential if you're to get the most out of your revision. By studying your work over a period of time, you will retain the information better. And though a spot of last-minute cramming on top of that will help you to get through the test itself, the long-term revision technique will allow you to better keep all the information in your head, which can prove particularly useful if you plan to continue studying the subject at a higher level.
In a study published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, this technique of 'distributed practice' was found to be the most effective for those wishing to memorise their work.
To be able to teach or explain to others a particular problem, area or point requires a good understanding of the subject, giving you a better chance of calling it back to memory when it comes to exam time. In addition, many students find that speaking aloud when dealing with a particular point helps them to recall it, so telling a friend or family member how you got from A to B may help. Others find that social media offers them a chance to bounce ideas off friends, and allows them to reaffirm what they know by answering the questions of others.
Once you know your timetable it is tempting to go all out on just the one subject before that particular exam, but research suggests it is better to divide your revision into smaller sections on a variety of subjects. Alternatively, try switching between different areas of the subject itself, solving a variety of problems in one revision session, rather than studying an entire area of history or an entire subject in one go.
Also found to be one of the most effective techniques in the aforementioned research, students who test themselves during and after their revision aids learning. Reading a text book, then testing yourself on the critical concepts is a good place to start, then keep testing yourself as your revision continues. If you're not sure where to begin with self-testing, sites such as BBC Bitesize provide tests for each section and subject.
Avoid distraction and stay well
You have no doubt heard it before, but it's important to stay focused when you're revising, and that means switching off the TV, saying no to Facebook and finding a quiet place to study. If revising in the bedroom means you're tempted to take a catnap, sit at a table elsewhere. And while many students work almost exclusively on a computer these days, writing by hand can sometimes help you to better absorb the information while avoiding any possible Internet-based distractions.
It is also essential that you are in good health if you are to make the most of your study time. Sleep is fundamental to brain recall, and learning just before bed can help to improve your memory of the subject. Just make sure you're getting enough shut-eye to make it worthwhile.
What revision techniques work for you? Let us know below...