LOVE IT: A-Level and GCSE Revision Advice

27 Apr 2017

As the summer term has started, the focus has inevitably shifted to the end of academic year exams, which loom for students at the College. Prior to the Easter holiday, students across all year groups sat mock examinations, set specifically to replicate the demands of those which will be sat this summer. Results from these will have provided a strong indicator of progress, whilst, perhaps more importantly, providing areas for improvement, whether in exam technique or in the need to strengthen weaker areas of knowledge on particular parts of the course. At this point in the year, course teaching amongst the subjects has been largely completed, leaving the focus on revision and exam preparation. Revision has often been a misunderstood practice amongst students. They often practice recognition of key facts in their studying, rather than retrieving the information and using it. Though this creates a stronger sense of familiarity with a subject syllabus, it amounts to little more than surface learning. This means that highlighting, rereading and rewriting notes should all be done before active revision takes place. It is absolutely critical that learning is embedded in preparation for the exams to ensure success. Though there is no absolutely cast iron way to guarantee success in revision, there are practices which certainly help maximise potential. A good pneumonic to remember is not to hate revision but to LOVE IT.

Look after yourself – Eat well. Sleep well. Exercise. Always try to make testing part of your revision session so you can measure progress. That way, if you do well, you can reward yourself when you hit a certain level. Give yourself a target, do a timed past paper, check your answers, reward yourself if you meet the target.  

Organisation – Make sure you have everything you need before you begin. This includes pens and paper, but also ensuring that you have the details of everything you need to know for every subject – exam specifications should be checked for this – and this includes comprehensive highlighted notes.

Variety – Mix up your revision strategies. Going through what you need to know in a series of different ways will help to embed it.

Exams – Get to know the exam, the mark schemes and the examiners reports. They give vital advice regarding what an examiner wants to see in terms of key words, and how they want the answers to be written. Websites like can help with this.

Individual, textbook, group and teacher – A simple preparatory way to revise content is one I like to call ‘Brain, Book, Buddy, Boss’. Create as many questions as you can to cover the syllabus, then see how many you can answer yourself. For those you can’t, use a textbook to fill the gaps, if still in doubt, ask a friend for help, and finally ask your teacher to fill any remaining gaps. Repeat regularly until you can answer 100% of the questions yourself.

Time – it is vital to space out revision in preparation for the exams – little and often will always beat cramming at the last minute, so set a schedule and stick to it. (Picture 1 I’ve attached) Start your revision sessions small and then build them up over time.

Allan Cairns

Director of Studies

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