Finding your groove can be tricky, particularly during an already daunting time, and especially given that your GCSEs will be the first qualifications you have prepared for.
We all know that revision can be difficult, but a well-planned and tailored approach is key to doing well in your exams, feeling confident and levelling up in your studies. But the real question is, how do you get the most out of your revision?
Here, THREE of our Seren Foundation alumni, Olivia, Ezra and Abigail, have come together to offer their top tips to help you get the most out of your revision.
1. Find your revision language
There’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to revising, and what may be great for one learner, might be unhelpful for another so it’s important to find out what works for you and you alone!
Think about the kind of learner you are and how you best process information?’ Do you learn best by speaking to others? Is repetition useful to you? Does music or drawing things help? Or perhaps different colours assist you to compartmentalise details?
Identifying what approach helps you remember key points will enable you to work out the best method for you – whether that’s a group revision session, using flashcards as a memorization technique or colour coding documents. It’s important to find the right method for you so you can ace your GCSE exams.
If you’re unsure, Abigail’s big idea is to try revising in a variety of different ways to get out of your comfort zone and find which suits you best. Maybe ask friend or family to test your knowledge, re-write key information on post-it notes and plaster your room in them or listen to recordings of your classes to help you remember.
2. Take breaks!
When you’re revising, it can be easy to get carried away but make sure you take regular breaks to give your mind a rest. Replace flashcards and post-its for a cup of tea and fresh air. Trust us, this will help when it comes to retaining information later down the line. Although you may feel more productive by doing hours of revision each day, cramming in hours at a time can actually be detrimental.
Don’t just take our word for it, research shows that taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5–60 minutes) from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.
3. Don’t let revision take over your life
Just because it’s revision season, doesn’t mean you have to eat, breathe and live information. Finding a balance between your work and your personal life is important to maintain your mental wellbeing, avoid burnouts and ensure you’re revising effectively.
You may be thinking, ‘how could I possibly concentrate on something other than revision?!’ Our Seren alumna Olivia’s advice is to take on an after-school activity to feed your extra energy or find a separate space that you associate with relaxation to put your mind at ease. Other fun, revision free activities include reading, art, playing sports or even playing games.
4. Set boundaries
Olivia, Ezra and Abigail all agree that the key to getting through the revision period is to set boundaries for yourself. Doing so will help your brain differentiate between what is work and what is relaxation. For example, if you are working on your bed, your brain will then associate that space with work which makes it harder for you to relax when you want to.
Create a workspace that you can walk away from when you need to, before returning with a fresh mindset to conquer your revision. AND, if you do find yourself with 15 minutes spare in the evening, you DON’T have to revise. Make sure to take time to yourself in your revision-free safe space.
5. Be patient
Being patient is a big part of successful revision. It’s important to remind yourself that you aren’t going to remember everything straight away – it takes practice and dedication – things that will only strengthen as you progress on your academic journey. Pulling an all-nighter and cramming in as much work as you possibly can doesn’t mean you will process that information any faster. Take your time while revising and focus on the information you’re learning, one piece at a time.
6. Make a timetable
Making a schedule is key to revising successfully for your GCSEs. Plan set days to revise set subjects to create a routine and try your best to stick to your timetable. That way you will know that you have covered everything that you need to.
If revising a particular subject is proving difficult, don’t pressure yourself. Take 5 minutes and come back to it. If you still aren’t focusing, then choose a subject you will enjoy revising. The last thing you want to do is add pressure to a daunting task.
7. It’s ok not to be ok.
Remember it’s okay not to be okay. Revision and exams can sometimes feel overwhelming so make the most of your support networks.
Take notice of your mood and if you feel like things are becoming too much, please reach out and seek help. This could be from somebody in your school, your friends, your family, loved ones, your GP or a helpline. There will always be somebody to support you. Don’t suffer in silence.