Everyone I know has experienced that feeling. It hits the night before a deadline or exam, it’s an overwhelming feeling of regret, disappointment and anger; ‘if only I had started this sooner…’, ‘if only I had more time..’, ‘I could do this better if…’
I absolutely hate this feeling and genuinely live in fear of it, which is why planning how I will do my revision, and now my work, is so important to me. As a teacher and tutor, I have been very surprised by how many students do not plan their revision. If you are wondering how to revise for your GCSEs or A-Levels, this is a small thing that can make a large difference. It is not just about avoiding the last-minute panic, but also ensuring that all topics are covered, and being able to feel calm and in control. The following are some tips to help you in planning independent work so that you can feel confident when that deadline or exam finally comes around. You can also find a revision timetable template to help you get started.
1. The earlier the better – As soon as you know what you need to do and for when, then is the time to start planning. If think about it, throughout your school life your teachers have thought about and planned specific programmes of lessons. When planning your own work, you are aiming to continue that structure to continue learning as effectively as possible.
2. Take the time to make your revision plan – I have been told this looks like procrastinating, but making a well-considered plan, and maybe making it look nice, will take a bit of time. Besides, it is very cheering to have a colour revision timetable on the wall. For me this is part of my pre-work ritual, but maybe try not to get too sucked into making it look nice. Maybe take a morning for it. But no more. Click here for template.
3. Plan in time to test and review, as well as revise and learn – Reading and making revision notes is one thing, actually learning, memorising, and improving your exam technique are different skills. Using quizzes and practice exam papers are very important to make sure that your revision is effective in helping you do well in your exams. Write into your plan when you will be testing yourself on topics you have already revised. As a good rule of thumb, revisit a topic briefly one day later, and then one week later. In the week before the exam, you should only be doing practice papers and quizzes.
4. Plan in time to rest and have fun – Throughout whatever stressful time you might be going through, always remember that you are only human, and you need things that all humans need, including food, fresh air, exercise, sleep and company. These things are not wasted time; if you are pacing yourself, you are making sure you are able to revise effectively. Remember the Pomodoro technique; 25 minutes on, 5 minutes break, or 2 hours on, 30 minutes break.
5. Reflect on how it is going – It is hugely important to be honest with yourself when thinking about what has been working and what does not. Some people enjoy watching TV during their breaks (a one half-hour episode might be the perfect length of time for a break) but others do not have the discipline to watch just one episode. If that second person is you, you are going to have to try something different. You might want to try a motivational app such as Coach.me or Way of Life (disclaimer – I have not tried these myself!) Are you getting as much done as you thought you would? Are you getting enough rest? This is your revision plan, you have the power to adjust it to make sure you are getting the most out of it.