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Friday, 5 October 2012

Taking exams: revision tips

By making a plan and organising your time, you can divide your revision into manageable chunks. This will increase your chances of remembering the important facts, and help you avoid last-minute stress.

Find out what you need to know

Make your revision plan as early as possible. This will allow you to work out how much time to spend revising each day and, just as importantly, when to take breaks.

The first step is to get organised: find out when your exam is, and work out how much time you have until then.

Write a revision checklist

Start by dividing the number of days you have until the exam by the number of topics you need to revise. Ask your teacher for a list of topics, or make your own by going through your notes. If it helps, you can use the BBC’s GCSE Bitesize revision map to make your checklist.

Think about any topics that will need more revision time - perhaps you covered them in more detail, or you found them more difficult.

Make a revision plan

When you know how many days you need to spend revising each topic, you'll be able to make revision part of your daily routine. However, you need to be realistic:

  • set aside time on your plan for things you need to do, like going to school and mealtimes
  • split the remaining time into half-hour slots
  • break each topic on your revision checklist down into chunks that you can cover in 30 minutes, and fill your slots with these chunks

The BBC Bitesize revision guides will help you to break your topics down into 30-minute slots.

Reading your revision notes

When going over your notes, keep in mind what you’re looking for:

  • read for detail when you need to a good understanding of the text - take it slowly and ask yourself questions while you’re reading
  • ‘skim’ to get the general idea of a large piece of text - read each paragraph quickly, and identify the main ideas in each one
  • ‘scan’ to look for a specific piece of information - move quickly through the text, homing in on sub-headings, names, numbers, dates and quotes

Look after yourself

Regular breaks are important if you're going to stay alert while revising. A five-minute break every half-hour is better than a 30-minute break after five hours. Get up, make a drink, tidy your room, check your email - you'll come back refreshed and ready to carry on. Breaks will also help you absorb the information and avoid overload.

Make sure you include a leisure activity in your revision plan twice or three times a week. It’s important to set aside time to take your mind off exams.

A healthy mind needs a healthy body, so look after yourself. Lots of sleep and regular exercise will help you stay alert. Your body needs fuel, so eat plenty of easily digestible foods - fresh vegetables and fruit will help keep your energy levels up.

Getting support

If you have any personal problems - for example, with relationships or bullying - there’s help available. Try to get support before your revision suffers.

Additional links

Get careers and skills advice

Get careers advice online or speak with a National Careers Service adviser by calling 0800 100 900

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