Learning how you revise best in each subject

By Maisie Amos, Deputy Head Girl

Recently, I have read many comments saying schools teach you what to learn but not necessarily how to learn. Barr Beacon does offer advice, especially during assemblies and PSHE lessons, to help guide revision but you do need to spend time working out what applies to you best and how your brain absorbs information. This may be different for different subjects.

I am currently studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths, so 3 science based subjects. Biology requires the memorising of a lot of facts in a short period of time and applying them to the world we live in. Maths requires practice and repetition of processes and formulas so you ‘get it right’ every time. Chemistry is by far my hardest subject.  I am the kind of person who likes to understand new concepts straight away and then memorise the facts afterwards.  However with chemistry you need to memorise the facts ‘for now’ and then you will have a better understanding of them as you cover more content and the more practice you do.

Steps to Success

  1. Mind map the different ways to revise. This can be through your own research, through this blog, YouTube videos or Instagram pages, from study accounts or even searching on google or google scholar and writing down a few tips.
  2. Try out all of the techniques on learning different bits of information. If you are doing your GCSEs, maybe try one technique for one lesson in each subject. If you are in Year 12, you can try this by recapping content from GCSE that you need to know. For Year 13, you will probably already know how to revise for your A-Levels by reflecting on the Year 12 mocks.  However, if you still would like to test them before delving into lots of work this year, maybe try with the content you struggled with in the mocks.
  3. Once you have tried the techniques, ensure that you test them out against your memory. Do a few exam questions and see which ones have ‘stuck’ in your brain the best. Try to think of the ways you would prefer to revise for each individual subject.
  4. Create a revision timetable and stick to it. I use Numbers, which is the Apple version of Excel, to create mine. Make sure it is realistic – it is probably not the best idea to be revising until 4am in the morning! You also need to make sure that you are leaving some buffer time.

Examples of Revision Techniques you could use

These are examples of what I do:-

  • After every lesson, I use a website called Notion to create myself questions and I transform every line of information written in my notes into a question.  I then attempt to answer the question without looking at my notes.  I then link this page into my calendar one day after the lesson, three days after the lesson, one week after, two weeks after, one month, two months and three months. On these days, I have to go back to the page of questions I made and I answer them and do a question from the textbook or Integral (Maths). Also on the day of the lesson, I do a Seneca lesson (for Biology and Chemistry) or the tests on integral (for Maths). On my Notion page, I make a cue card on the questions that I found most difficult and file this in my folder. In addition to this, I complete any homework I am set in the lesson.

Summary

  • Mind maps
  • Spaced repetition (the retrieval practice I do with Notion)
  • Past Paper Questions (make sure you mark them)
  • Recapping lessons
  • Whiteboard pens- write it out again and again until it sticks
  • Cue cards
  • Talking through processes out loud
  • Convert words to pictures
  • Memory Spots
  • Stacking
  • Use rhymes
  • Use mnemonics
  • Pictorial Storage

Revision Timetables – my advice

  1. Create a grid with columns Monday to Sunday at the top and the times you are going to revise along the bottom.
  2. Block out any times where you cannot revise (e.g. eating, exercise, travelling home, clubs).
  3. Think about how much time you want to spend revising content for each lesson (hint: 2 hours per subject per week is probably about right for GCSE but not enough for A levels).
  4. Choose which days you are taking a break from revision. You could label one of these days as a buffer day where you can catch up on other work that you have not managed to do.
  5. Choose how long each period of revision will be before you take a break (20 minutes revision followed by a 5-minute break or 1-hour revision followed by a 15-minute break).
  6. Slot in the times you are going to revise, stating the subject (for A levels this should be at least 5 hours per subject per week).
  7. Every Sunday, print off your timetable and annotate it, stating what you will be doing in each study session for the following week or (copy the document you made and edit it each week).
  8. Remember to be flexible with your time. If you cannot revise one night, move those study sessions to your buffer day.
  9. If you are having trouble finding a way of revising all the content until your final exam, use the app Adapt to structure the topics you will revise each day. This will also help you to structure a revision timetable.

Useful Links

https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/7-tricks-to-help-you-remember-anything/

Other Websites that could help:

Contact Info

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Aldridge, Walsall
West Midlands
WS9 0RF

T: 0121 366 6600
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