How can I revise?
A common question but no-one can actually tell you how to revise – everybody has their own preferred way of learning. There are however lots of different strategies that you can try, and you may wish to use several of these to help you as you revise.
1. Get Organised – You need to break your work down into its constituent parts. Break it down into the relevant units and then identify the separate topics. Make sure you have a summary checklist of what you need to learn for each topic –if you are not sure – ask your teacher! Make sure you have any relevant revision guides and keep your revision notes / resources organised by topic area. Create a realistic revision plan (factor in all your subject areas and when you are going to revise what subject – also plan in some ‘you time’ and things to look forward to. You need to work backwards – look at the dates of your exams and work out how many weeks you have before the exams and then plan out your revision.
2. Active Revision – Revise using your preferred learning style – there is no-one way to revise, we all have our own way of doing it. However, just sitting and reading your notes over and over will not be productive – you need to actively engage with your revision as well.
- READ INTELLIGENTLY – take a sub-topic – spend 5 minutes reading your notes or looking at the revision guide summaries. Then close your books and brainstorm down what you can remember. Look back and identify any key points you missed. A few days later try again but without looking at your notes first. This way you are actively learning and building up your knowledge – it is far more productive than just sitting and reading your notes.
- MIND MAPS – use sub-topics to create branches for each topic and from here map out the key ideas associated with them – try and keep points short and memorable. Use highlighters / coloured markers to colour code or make things more memorable so that they stand out in your mind.
- REVISION CARDS – you can easily create your own revision cards for topics – if you have questions on one side and answers on the other so you can ask friends / relatives to test you.
- VIDEOS – some videos may be available for your subject area but you can also create your own simple podcasts using any audio recording device (maybe available on smartphone / tablets). Listening to information again at any time can help the learning process.
- FLASH CARDS – create key term flash cards – key term on one side, definition on the other to help you learn these.
- CONDENSE NOTES – create revision cards or summarise and condense notes onto one piece of paper to make them easier to learn.
- TEST AND RECAP – get someone to test you, this could be parents, friends, relations – why not get together with some friends in your group every now and again to have a study session where you test each other!
3. Think! As well as actively learn facts and details you must think through and understand the material you are revising. The key to success is being be able to apply what you have learnt to exam questions, this requires good understanding! If you don’t understand something, check your revision guide and read it over again. If you still don’t understand send your teacher an email or pop and see us and ask for help – that is what we are here for!
4. Key Terms – Learn your definitions for key terms precisely – these are easy marks to pick up and can help you maximise your marks. Make sure you also learn the spellings of key terms – remember there may be SPAG marks some of your exam papers – again easy marks to gain but also easy marks to lose! Your teachers may be able to give you relevant glossary / key word sheets and of course you can create your own.
5. Past Papers – Developing exam technique is essential. Many students develop an excellent knowledge and understanding but in exams just write everything they know rather than answering the actual question set and consequently don’t achieve as highly as they should. Practicing past papers gives you the opportunity to practice applying your knowledge so make good use of past papers. These may be available online from the exam board or if not simply ask your teacher. Try and actively make use of questions when you are revising. Perhaps look at a question, revise the content, then have a go at the question. Think carefully about command words and focus terms and hand in any questions you would like marked or ask for a mark scheme. Using the mark scheme yourself can be really useful for getting to grips with what the examiner is looking for. Make sure you look at any model answers your teachers have given you as well.
6. Improve your memory – There are ways to improve your ability to remember place specific detail, definitions: – repetition – build in a regular brief review of material covered so you don’t forget things – association – link information into meaningful associations – e.g. link it to existing information or develop ‘mental cues’ which help you recall the material in the future – mnemonics and rhymes – create memory aids which allow you to remember things – e.g. for remembering the seven stages of the Butler model (little rhymes or sayings which begin with the first letters of the stages). – Visualisation – pictures can really help – associated pictures with words or names you need to remember. Sleep and Exercise are also important! Don’t stay up all night on the computer! Plenty of sleep is important for your memory capability. Physical exercise also helps to increase blood flow to the brain! So go for a run or play that game of football or netball!
7. Review what you have learnt – Keep reviewing material you have learnt during your revision programme. By revisiting information you have learnt four or five times over a period of weeks your retention of the information will be much better!
(Rob Chambers, 2016)
Head Boy (Class of 2016)
“To revise, I used videos on the Priestlands GCSE Computer Science website and I re-purposed notes from the revision guide. Doing past exam papers is also very helpful, as well as the exercises in the Revision Guide as they test your knowledge. Revision cards are also good for testing basic facts. Including the 3 hours of lesson time, I probably revised for 4-5 hours per week during exam season. I completed the weekly exam paper that was set leading up to the exam and this was really helpful. Marking the exams myself and writing in corrections directly from the mark scheme was particularly useful.
My three keys to being successful on the Computer Science course would be:
- Learn the basic definitions of computing terms and test yourself regularly (especially acronyms).
- Practice exam questions and mark directly from the mark scheme (writing in corrections) so that you know what information is required in different types of question.
- Make sure that you work hard on your controlled assessments tasks so that they dont drag your grade down