Revision Resources KS4
Without doubt exams and assessments are nerve-racking experiences for both pupils and their parents. We recognise it is an anxious time during the run-up to exams and student, parents and carers maybe be wondering the approach to take. So, with that in mind, here we aim to help the students of HAR become fully prepared and enable the parents and carers to support their children as they approach internal assessments, mocks and exams.
Revision and preparation for assessment and exam success is crucial, but what makes for effective revision? Some strategies are very popular, and students often spend A LOT of time doing these, yet they are proven to have little impact.
3 commonly used and POOR revision techniques are:
- Rereading texts
- Copying out notes
The reason these are so ineffective is that they require little thinking, and it is THINKING about things that makes us remember them.
“Memory is the residue of thought” DT Willingham
It is easy to see why students favour these strategies. They are low demand but make students feel assured that they are ‘doing revision’. They will come bounding downstairs from their room to show off their neat files and highlighted sheets of texts that they have ‘revised.’
Gratifying? Yes. Effective? NO.
If you are revising using these methods, you need to STOP now.
So what does work? Below are the three most effective approaches to revision.
Rather than cramming all your revision for one subject into one block, it is much better to space this out, right from now until the exams are over. Revision for GCSE can start from the very first day in year 10! Why is this better?
Controversially, it is because this gives you time to forget. This means that when you come back to it a few weeks later you will have to think harder which helps to remember it better. By interleaving and mixing up different topics together, and continually revisiting your learning, you will be more successful at remembering and remembering quicker.
“Memories weaken over time. If we learn something new, but then make no attempt to relearn that information, we remember less and less of it as the hours, days and weeks go by.” Hermann Ebbinghaus
As far as techniques go, this technique is pretty straight forward. You need to keep testing yourself (or each other) on what you have learnt and on what you can remember. This technique has been shown to have the highest impact in terms of supporting your recalling and remembering. Some ways in which you can do this are:
- Creating flashcards with one question and one answer on the back- keep testing!
- Work through past exam papers (you can get these direct from exam board websites)
- Use apps such as Quizzlet, Seneca, Cognito, Gojimo and many more
One of the best things that you can do to support your revision is to ask why an idea or concept is true... and then answer! You can ask yourself and a friend or be asked by parents and carers. For example:
In science, increasing the temperature can increase the rate of chemical reaction... why?
In geography, the leisure industry of seaside towns like Barry Island in South Wales has deteriorated in the last 4 decades... why?
In history, in 1929 the American stock exchange collapsed. This supported Hitler’s rise to power... why?
So rather than just learning facts or ideas and reading them over and over, you should get into the habit of asking yourself WHY these things are true.
Other useful revision techniques
A mind map is a useful strategy because it helps you organise information around a single topic or concept. You start with putting the topic in the middle of the page. Then from there you have different themes/subtopics coming from it from which you can make notes around.
Advantages of using mind maps:
- Can be used for variety of tasks – note taking, essay plans, revision.
- Easy to add ideas at a later date.
- Help to see links between different factors.
- Can add pictures and symbols to make things more memorable.
- Can be used to condense lots of information
Mind maps can be particularly useful for revision when, once you have finished one, you try to recreate it from memory.
This means combing visuals with written notes. Having the information presented in two different ways can help you understand the information better and can also help you recall the information more easily.
This is a method of note taking that helps you to condense and organise your notes into a one-page summary.
Once the notes have been completed, you can then use the recall cues to test yourself.
Mnemonics are a technique used to help remember things by association. For example, you might have learnt the order of the colours of the rainbow with the phrase “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” with the first letter of each letter corresponding to the first letter of the colour it represents.
If you have to remember things in a certain order for your exam, making up a mnemonic like this can be helpful.
This way of revising helps you break down a topic into 12 sub-categories. You make notes in each chunk of the clock. Once you have finished making your notes, you revise each chunk for 5 minutes and then either write the notes from memory or recite them to someone.
TOP TIPS FOR PARENTS:
- Encourage your child to make a revision timetable – and stick to it. This includes planning in time for friends, exercise, and relaxing. Make copies, keep these in visible places such as the fridge. Link on how to make a revision timetable:
- Make sure your child has a quiet space to work, with no distractions. Putting the mobile phone away can be a challenge but removing that distraction can help too. Bedrooms are NOT the best place for revision to take place; there should be a distinction between places of hard work and places for relaxation. A dining room table would be a better alternative.
- Help to find the method of learning and retaining information that works best for them. It could be summarising notes, using flash cards or Post-it notes, looking at video clips, playing back recordings of their own voice, mind mapping or perhaps a mixture of these. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJbKXmujI00
- Check the exam specifications. All exam boards publish these, along with practice papers and mark schemes too. The content of the specification is what the exam will be based on – the better you know this, the better the results will be.
- Clarify areas your child feels less confident about. Teenagers sometimes concentrate on their best subjects and leave their weaker ones till the end, but it is a good idea to tackle weak areas early on.
- Be around as much as possible. You don’t have to be at their side 24/7, but children like parents and carers taking an interest in their revision. Be careful however not to take over.
- Keep the kitchen cupboard stocked with healthy food. When the going gets tough children really appreciate a cup of tea, a healthy snack, or their favourite meal.
- Encourage them to break revision into manageable chunks and to take regular breaks in between revision sessions. It’s far more effective to do 30 minutes of successful revision – rather than plough on for hours on end and not get anywhere. Ensure they are rewarded for this successful revision by allowing them to watch their favourite TV programme, meet up with friends or by playing a game.
- Exercise, fresh air, healthy food and lots of sleep are crucial.
- Most important of all, help your child to keep everything in perspective. Remind them that the better they prepare and the more confident they feel in their subject knowledge the less stressed they will feel when the exams start.
Here is a link to a useful guide to revision published by OCR
GCSE SUPPORT AT HAR
A series of formal and informal interventions will be in place to support and prepare all students for their GCSE exams throughout the GCSE exam years.
Firstly, regular classroom assessment take place to enable the teacher to shape and guide students to close gaps in learning or to extend their thinking. You may hear your child talk about ‘Do Now’ tasks, a NANO or a GEOG, these are the ways lessons are started in all subjects to enable a period of recall before new learning takes place. Homework tasks are designed to support revision and exam practice and are essential to GCSE success.
After school each day (Tuesday – Thursday) there are compulsory interventions ran by experienced staff to ensure students have the time to revisit concepts, practice learnt knowledge and tackle areas of concern. These are extremely useful sessions that act as an extra lesson for students. The subjects on offer change termly to ensure coverage of all subjects throughout GCSE. Additionally, before school and after intervention sessions (4PM-5PM) are made available by teachers for students to attended to revisit learning, revise topics and prepare for exams. Whilst these are voluntary, we would encourage every student to attend where possible and take all the opportunities available to them.
Revision guides are available to purchase for each subject and will be an invaluable support for student studying towards GCSE’s. Please ensure you check which exam board and course you are sitting before ordering revision guides.
We have targeted interventions for some students, ran by trained tutors, to focus on their progress in core subjects however most intervention and support is classroom based. Keeping in communication with classroom teachers can help both students and parents and contact information for each teacher is found on the student’s report.
Students are often attached to their mobile devices and gain a lot from websites and apps. Some great online resources are listed below:
Worry, anxiousness and feeling under pressure are all common feelings when you are working towards exams. However, there are a range of things that students and parents can do to help deal with the stress you might be feeling.
When students are feeling stressed, get them talking.
- Remind them that a certain amount of stress is normal and good for motivation. They can use this emotion to improve their performance.
- Encourage them to talk to friends, they are there to help, and they will realise they are not alone.
- Encourage them to talk to teachers, they will have a different perspective and can help to solve problems and offer practical solutions.
- Get them to take breaks and get plenty of sleep
- Encourage them to revise with friends. Learning is a social thing, and they don’t need to be isolated and alone.
Mindfulness activities such as breathing techniques can help to support stress, find out more here: https://franticworld.com/mindset
How else can parents help?
- Encourage them to start revising NOW... as soon as possible! Athletes don’t just train the day before; actors don’t just rehearse the day before filming
“The more I practised, the luckier I get” Gary Player (golfer)
- Provide a quiet space to work. Most people work well in an undisturbed place with space to spread out. Make sure it is well lit and that there are no distractions
- Help them get a balance in their revision timetable for work and social time. Breaks will help learning, giving the brain time to store and sort information. Keeping up with friends will help put the stress of exams into better perspective.
- Make time for exercise. This naturally relaxes us even just a brief walk in the fresh air can help.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. As exams get closer you may notice that your child’s room becomes messier than normal. Try not add any additional pressure- their room can always be tided later.
- Help them to eat and sleep well. Make time to sit down and eat together. Discuss ways to help your child to get a good night sleep, maybe by switching off the phone, iPad, or games console to get a clear head before bedtime.
- Keep them talking. All student's feel demotivated, overwhelmed, nervous, and can struggle at times. Help them to see that this is OK, talk to them about how you felt nervous too. Help them in overcoming these barriers.
- “How can I help?”
- “If you’d like me to test you, let me know”
- “I’ve brought you a snack to keep you going”
- Give plenty of praise and encouragement and don’t pass on your stress. Young people, are under more pressure today than ever before. Try not to show how worried you might be about exams. In fact, make it explicit that you love them whatever happens (sounds too obvious, but it really matters to young people, who can often feel they will let their parents down).
- Expect and encourage your child to attend additional sessions where extra support can be received.
- Communicate regularly with the school; we all want the very best for your child.
For more information about managing stress during exam times, the links below will be useful