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#revision tips

Tips From A New Year 12 Who Somehow Got All 9s

Don’t worry, I’m not becoming a studyblr. I’m writing this on results day as a sort of farewell to GCSEs and to impart some “wisdom” upon the youngsters before I move on to A-levels. I’m going to keep this to specific, practical things you can do to improve, none of that vague nonsense. Subject-specific tips for maths, geography, triple science, language, literature, graphic comms and comp sci under the fold because this is too bloody long already.

General Tips:

  • Don’t go revision crazy. People will always emphasize revision, but so long as you’re revising effectively (see below) you’re safe to start revising about a month before mocks, and two months before your final exams. In terms of a revision schedule during those months, I worked with one or two hours per day, with a free day on Friday and Sunday. 
  • Use apps to stay organised. Put your school timetable and exam dates in your calendar of choice with appropriate reminders and colour coding. To keep track of homework and revision, use Adapt - you can put in your GCSEs and it tracks which topics you have covered and how many times, as well as allowing you to input homework and your school timetable. During study time use Forest (free on Android) to lock yourself out of your phone for a certain amount of time.
  • Pay attention to lessons from the start. From the beginning of Year 10 every lesson is a GCSE lesson, and everything you learn could come up in an exam. Follow along with your teacher, make the best notes you can, do the work and understand the concepts as early as you can. You’ll thank yourself in a year as you watch the rest of your class wonder what a ribosome is when revision time comes.
  • Revise effectively. Use Adapt or a textbook to keep track of your confidence level on every topic, so when you’re revising you can focus on the ones you don’t understand whatsoever. Also, don’t just read stuff when revising. You have to train your brain to retrieve the information. Memorise vocabulary and basic facts using flashcards, then answer exam questions. Lots and lots of exam questions.
  • Use your teachers. They want you to succeed because it reflects well on them! If you don’t understand something after a lesson, pop back at break or lunch, or shoot them an email and they will help. Don’t just bank on it not showing up in the test because Sod’s Law dictates that it will. After Christmas in Year 11 they will often start revision sessions or intervention. Attend them for any subjects you’re even slightly shaky on. They’ll boost your grade like nothing else, even if it does take up some of your chill out time.
  • Buy textbooks and study materials through school. If your school offers you textbooks and workbooks it’s likely that will be the best deal for them, since they’re purchased in bulk. Grab all you can in Year 10 and talk to the school if you can’t afford many - they may be willing to help. If you know any higher-level teachers see if they have any sample study materials from CGP and the like. My English teacher gave me a lovely set of sample CGP Macbeth flashcards that would have proved really useful.
  • Make flashcards at the end of every topic. Stay on top of them. You want a term on one side and a definition on the other, or a quote and analysis etc. If you don’t like endless bits of card floating around use Quizlet - you might not even need to make them yourself as many people have shared GCSE flashcards there.
  • And finally - don’t forget you’re a human! Humans need regular sleep, healthy food including breakfasts, hydration, fun and social time. Make time in your day to take care of yourself. Your brain works better when you’re healthy so often an extra hour of sleep will do more for your grade than an extra hour of revision. Hanging out with your friends and keeping up with your hobbies reduces stress. 

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about any of this stuff, or if you just need advice I’m here too! I’ve done it before, I can help you out.

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Heres a fun writing tip I just tripped over while babbling to my wife:

If you have trouble with a certain detail, think about its stakes. I never think about body language until it has a higher stake, until one character is very much thinking about every accidental touch. Same with clothes. Unless a character is very aware of what the other is wearing, I never describe clothes.

A lot of readers will be the same way. Things become “filler” when their inclusion has nothing at stake. Dont get me wrong, filler has its uses (giving things details gives them life), but the scale against which you should weigh your filler is its stakes. You’re less likely to bore a reader if the details you’re including have the potential to change the story.

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I feel so dumb because i failed in one class is the second time i take this class and i totally failed, i feel stupid i feel i never gonna graduate from college, all my friends pass the class and now i have to take that stupid class for a third time. Please give some advice 😕😕

Hi lovely!

I’m really sorry for the wait for a response, I hope you’re doing a little better now. Hopefully I can help reassure you!

I know that it really sucks having to retake classes and exams, but neither of those things define your intelligence. It’s obviously a class that you really struggle with, and that’s okay! We can’t all be good at everything; everyone has something they struggle with this much. For me it was Chemistry, I loved it in high school and got 12 marks off full marks on the course, but when at post 16 level I found it so tricky, I couldn’t even pass any of the components! For ages I stuck at it, but in the end I had to drop the subject because it was too much for me and it was bad for my wellbeing. I’m not advising that you do that as I don’t know what the class is, where you are in the education system (or world for that matter), but there is absolutely no shame in finding something difficult, and it certainly does not make you dumb.

I know this isn’t necessarily what you want to hear right now, but it doesn’t actually matter if you graduate from college. It doesn’t matter what your friends do, or what your family think. All that matters is that you’re happy and you’re advocating for your own mental health. If this isn’t good for you, there is no shame in trying a different route. Having said that, I have every faith that you will graduate college, you can pass this class, you just need to believe in yourself and seek the right support.

The first thing I think you need to do is speak to your tutors, and possibly look into asking someone who has already passed the class to privately tutor you/help you out. You’re going to have to work hard, and you’re going to need support but with this, it could make so much difference to you. You also need to understand basic study techniques. I don’t know what your studying is like, but there are certain things you should know which I’ll go over in the next few paragraphs.

Time keeping is super important. Your brain can only efficiently concentrate for between 25 minutes – hour maximum at the time. Do not try to force yourself to study for any longer than this without at least a 15 minute break. When you’re having a break, make sure to take yourself out of the area in which you’re studying. Similarly, start revising at least 2 weeks before each test. For your final exams I would recommend starting your revision a minimum of a month before your exams begin.

Similarly, organisation is important. Rather than organise your revision by time, organise thematically, it really helps your understanding. If you need more help with this, feel free to submit another ask with more details of the class and asking how to organise thematically, you are welcome to ask for me to answer it (same goes for any of our followers).

Work out what works for you, this could be flashcards, mind maps, notes, presentations, or a mixture. Repetition is key! And try and organise the information in different ways each time, as this will help you understand it. Practice tests are also a really good way to revise.

Its so cliché, but attitude is key. You need to go into it believing that you’re going to try your best and that’s good enough, stay calm and collected, and don’t be afraid to take a breather. You wouldn’t have gotten this far if you were incapable, you’re clearly smart enough to make it through.

Make sure you work in time for yourself too! Time to relax, plus 8 hours sleep and time to eat is so important. Working hard is tiring for your brain, which makes your body tired too.

I really hope this has helped,

Caitlin

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Tr not to leave work until last minute. It can seem hard sometimes, but just doing the work as soon as it is assigned makes life just that little bit easier.

I know I’m bad for doing this, too, and lord knows I now have history work overdue. You don’t have to be perfect every time, but it makes last minute/late work much less of a stress and a problem if you’re on top of everything else x


13 - 05 - 2019

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  • do you know what you need to revise for each paper?
  • have you organised your notes into clearly defined sections?
  • have you looked up past papers so you can keep past questions in mind?
  • do you have a realistic revision timetable?
  • are you taking frequent breaks?
  • are you learning appropriately for the kind of learner you are?
  • ask your teachers for help whenever you need it
  • do you have someone you can ask for help?
  • do you have a comfortable, quiet space to study?
  • are you getting enough sleep?
  • are you designating time to relax and doing things you enjoy?
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I made a video giving a quick overview of how I incorporate doing past papers into my A-Level revision. Thought I’d give it a quick plug in case it can help someone out there beginning to stress about how close exams are…

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How to do well on tests/revision tips.

As a high school student, it’s a given that I have to do a lot of tests and assessments. Some are to prepare for my GCSEs, some are to test my knowledge and understanding of the topic I’ve been studying and some are compulsory for my school year. Either way, I strive for high marks on every test I do. Here are a few tips on how to revise well for tests and ensure high grades.

  1. Don’t procrastinate. I learnt this one the hard way. You can’t cram all your studying into one evening. It’ll certainly affect your score negatively, as it won’t be ingrained into your mind and you’ll probably forget all the information by morning.
  2. Practise, practise, practise! Ask a teacher for some past paper questions or just practice questions. This is something I’ve done for years; it always helps me to understand how questions will be formatted and worded. Reading the mark schemes also helps majorly, and helps you understand what information needs to be included and what you need to eradicate from your answer.
  3. Revise what you learn as you learn it. Don’t leave it all until the weeks leading up to the test. Make mind maps, flash cards etc. as soon as you’ve learnt something. By the time exam season rolls around, you’ll know most of your topics. Even if you know your topics, keep revising all the way up until your test to keep it fresh in your mind.
  4. Keep yourself healthy. When it comes to passing your exams, sleep is essential. Teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep per night, but most teenagers struggle to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep causes a decrease in your ability to learn, concentrate, listen and solve problems. This will greatly affect your grades in a negative way. If you have an irregular sleep pattern, establish a bed time and waking time. You should also drink lots of water, eat (no junk food!) and get an hour of exercise at least three days a week.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take breaks! To study effectively, you have to take breaks. These breaks must be taken after fifty to ninety minutes of studying and must last between fifteen and twenty minutes long. During these breaks, you need to relax your brain. You should avoid screens, shift your attention to something else, maybe take a walk or do a small bit of exercise and most importantly, stop concentrating. Your break is your time to relax, so use it wisely.
  6. Study in a quiet area. The best place to study is a room with minimal background noise. Some good places to study are the library (as it’s always quiet) and your room (as long as you don’t share it with siblings or anyone else.) If you listen to music while revising, especially music that you’re familiar with, it can prevent learning. It’s much easier to revise with no distractions, it’ll help you learn more in a shorter period of time.
  7. Motivate yourself and remain motivated. I have trouble motivating myself to study, and often get distracted. My most effective ways of motivating myself include buying cute stationery and thinking of my future, as I have a massive phobia of failure. My methods may not work for everyone. Find what’s best for you.
  8. Most importantly, don’t panic! If you don’t do well, don’t get upset. There’s always next time. If you haven’t studied enough and you have to wing it. That’s not ideal, but there’s still a chance you could do well if you know the material well enough. If you’re like me and get upset if you don’t get top marks, just remember that you’re not going to be the best at everything and that’s okay.
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Hey, what do you think I should give up in order to be great in high school?

Hey, I don’t think that you should have to wholly give up anything that you really enjoy to be great in high school. From my experience the people with tons of extra-curriculars’ and people who have lots of free time they could spend studying can come out with the same grades and be just as great. I think time-management is the key to greatness (which I don’t have much of lol) if you’re going to do say like an hour of ballet just make sure you can also do an hour of school work and for anything you miss in school make sure to get caught up quickly and ask questions if you need.

 So maybe to be great what you need to give up is laziness ( assuming you’re like me who procrastinates likes its a sport) instead of other activities or things. I realised I just rambled there about giving up activities when you didn’t even specially reference that so 😂but I hope that kinda helped, any more questions feel free to ask!

(p.s. I wouldn’t consider myself to be especially great just in case I answered that proclaiming like I know all x 😂)

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Hey, I wanted to ask you how to learn? Do you have a special way to learn? And what are you doing in moments when you have a lot to learn ... I'm sorry I do not know very well English

Hey, don’t worry your English is great!

Hmmm I usually learn by making notes and then going over them a couple of times and condensing key points into flashcards and learning them really well.

If I have a lot to learn I’ll usually speed up that process by doing practice questions which helps me really quickly see what I know and what I have to go over.

Sometimes I make lists of what I need to know broken down so I can tick things off as I go.

Summary tables and mindmaps are also really useful when you need a quick overview of a topic! I don’t know if that helps but hopefully it does :)

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revision tips: (what helps me)

. FIND YOUR STYLE. by doing this it will make revision so much easier and will help you to be more motivated. E.G. if you are a very minimalistic person then don’t use too many highlighters, keep it simple and use a key and keep everything simple and minimalistic 

. HIGHLIGHTERS. I personally love highlighters to make key words or phrases stand out as it helps me to remember them. I like to use different colour schemes for different topics or subjects.

. WRITE AS IF YOU ARE ANSWERING A QUESTION. When revising write out your notes in paragraphs, as if you are answering an exam question. I find that this makes me remember the material a lot more in exams and i stress less when answering a question because I’ve already answered it. 

. LISTEN TO MUSIC. Listening to music can really help you to become so much more motivated. You can listen to slow and peaceful music to help you be more relaxed. 

. TAKE BREAKS. don’t do all your revision at once, create a schedule and that way you wont over do it and will be able to remember it all more. 

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i finished my a levels in june and received my results last week: an A in literature and A*s in religious studies and mathematics

over the last two years i have found things that work and things that don’t when it comes to a levels and revision:

1. revision timetables are important but also not really. what i mean is it is good to have a structure and to have a rough plan for the day. it is not good to plan every minute of every day or to have a timetable that schedules in nine hours of work. it is just unrealistic and disheartening when you inevitably fail to stick to it. i found out the hard way that a nine hour day is just not possible and at the end of the two weeks i managed it for i felt so drained.

what i found to work best is around five or six hour days, structured just like a school day. for me this was two hours from 8:50 until 10:50, a twenty minute break, then another two hours from 11:10 until 1:10, a 50 minutes lunch and then finally another hour.

this worked for me because i was finished by 3:00pm and felt as though i had a whole day to do what i wanted to do, whilst not feeling guilty as i has done five hours of revision.

another tip for revision timetables is to write each of your subjects down along with different ideas for what kind of revision you can do for them. for example for english i had quote revision, mind maps and essay plans as options.

2. highlighters are overrated. if you have to have them only highlight the really important things that you are likely to forget- there’s no point highlighting important things you already know really well. likewise, having everything highlighted defeats the point.

3. condense notes. it’s good to start with full notes that have everything you need to know and often this will be your textbook, sheets in class or what’s written in your notebook.

the best thing to do i have found is to condense notes twice: first into shorter, bullet pointed notes where you quickly outline key concepts but leave out the details and then secondly into words or bullet points that you keep forgetting.

4. don’t revise in your pyjamas. i found that getting up, showered and dressed early in the morning put me in a much better frame of mind for the day.

if revising early doesn’t work for you then don’t do it but for me it helped so much to be awake by 7:00 and start a little before 9:00. when i woke up later i found i constantly put off revision and, before i knew it, it was 8:00pm and i’d lost a day of revision.

5. teachers aren’t bad people, generally. they are there to help you and want you to succeed in their subject.

i honestly can’t say enough that if you need help or are in anyway unsure of anything in your course: ask your teacher for help. you are not going to look stupid for asking them to clarify details or explain things. you can always go after class if you’re too anxious to ask during.

6. try out different revision techniques that work for you before it’s too late. not everyone learns in the same way and the best way to work out what the best method of revision for you is to actually try different things.

revising with another person in your class can be helpful as well eg. in english me and a friend would test each other on quotes and also found it helpful to read notes out to each other. explaining/teaching others is a good way of knowing you understand something.

7. flash cards are also kinda overrated. a lot of people learn really well from them and they are a great way of checking you know facts or details.

however they take so long to make and are really easy to lose. if you’re organised and can get them done well before the exams then go for it, but i know so many people whose time spent making flash cards could’ve been used so much more efficiently.

a really good alternative to paper flash cards i and my friends used an app and website called Quizlet. you can make digital flashcards that can be accessed anywhere and there are loads of different learning techniques. you can also access other people’s flashcards on a subject which is really helpful for things like critic quotes.

8. work during your ‘free’ periods. it’s really tempting to chat with friends or go on your phone but you. will. regret. it.

9. money is nice but jobs can really limit your free time and revision time. unless you really do need the money i would recommend against a part time job.

10. don’t beat yourself up about missing a day or not getting the grade you wanted in a test. learn from your mistakes and try again.

this is just what worked for me and what didn’t work for me which is different for everyone. if you love highlighting everything and it actually works for you then that’s great.but if you’re struggling for how to revise or stay motivated one or more of these tips might work for you :)

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If you guys are revising, here’s some advice:

- keep hydrated! Your brain cannot function without water so make sure you keep topped up on the good stuff

- take regular breaks, I know past papers take forever, but once you’re done, spend 10-15 minutes doing something else before you mark it

- eat. This sounds so simple, but when you’re in revision mode, nothing is simple. Time when you’re going to eat some food and work around that

- get enough sleep! If you have a morning exam, make sure you’re sleeping around 6-8 hours for maximum productivity in the exam

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