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Revision - Good Practice

Revising...some helpful information and advice

We have set out these Pages as a guide to help those embarking on revision programmes and for those who want to know about revising effectively.

All these approaches and methods will have been rehearsed with pupils.

The one important thing to remember is that without investment in quality revision hopes and dreams may not be realised

‘The limits to learning are mostly self-imposed'

Dispelling some myths!

Research on Brain Function and How We Learn reveal that traditionally accepted ideas are not as effective as the new style approaches ( see Power Point Presentation for an overview )

Right and Left Brain Users; Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic Learners are all part of the new vocabulary when talking about learning. This means that;

‘for individual students their learning behaviours may very well be different but nevertheless equally effective.

What do you want from a programme of revision?

A programme of revision should be designed to help you plan to consolidate what you already know, understand and are able to do and, over time, plan ways of achieving the same for those areas you are not so certain about.
As revision proceeds you should be able to condense your notes several times to eventually build up a skeleton of topics, subtopics and key words/areas which can then act as a quick reference for you. This means that every time you return to a topic ( and certainly when you revise the day or night before your exam) you will have a quick reference of everything.

Preferred Learning Styles

Three learning styles have been identified Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic . ( Information about these learning styles can be obtained by clicking here * ) Knowing this, recommendations have been made as to how methodologies can be used to match these styles and promote learning

There are some common prerequisites to support good revision and learning. These are:

- You need to make sure you know what you want from revision. Perhaps this would include one or more of the following...The rosy glow of success on results day! Realising success at the end of 11 years of compulsory schooling! To get to where you want to go! Doing the very best you can as a matter of personal pride! Unless there is some kind of Emotional involvement you will not learn as much as you could.

- You won't learn much if you are stressed, angry, upset or tired. You will learn best when you are feeling happy and enthusiastic.

- Get plenty of exercise..a healthy mind needs the oxygen provided by physical exercise as well as mental stimulation. Exercise increases the intake of oxygen which the brain thrives on.

- Eat sensibly, try to avoid lots of fatty foods and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink plenty of water..the Brain needs to be hydrated. Try to avoid tea and coffee they have a high caffeine content and will dehydrate you.

There are some interesting facts about behaviours which promote good learning.

These are:

Make sure you know how the bits of your revision fit together. Figure out the big picture, and then break it down into smaller bite-sized pieces that you need to learn. Mind mapping is a good way of doing this
The average concentration time is 20 minutes. After this your brain will not be receptive. Have regular breaks - these need not be big breaks, but every 20 minutes or so make sure you stretch, do some brain gym or think about something completely different
Good revision uses both sides of the brain at once. Try to build lots of variety into your revision. Use as many different senses as you can and use music, colour, movement and pictures as much as you can. Your brain thrives on Stimulation.
Display mind maps, diagrams, important facts etc around the walls ABOVE eye level
Each time you record work try and do it in different ways eg writing on cards, drawing flow diagrams, mind and concept mapping, drawing simple pictures.
Work from what you know, but build up new information bit by bit...your brain is ‘hungry' for new information ( highlight the work in the books you are confident of in Green and areas you are not so confident of in Red )
Try playing Baroque music when you are reviewing something you have already learnt. It helps absorption and storage of information

Some key ideas for consolidating learning. These are:

know your own preferred learning style ( visual, auditory or kinaesthetic )
your brain will take on new information better in the morning. Work on things in the morning that are new or ones you find hard. Use the afternoon to go over things you have already learned
learning is quickly forgotten. Review what you have learned after 10 mins, for 10 mins at the end of the day, for 10 mins within 48 hours, for 10 mins weekly and monthly.
When returning to a topic try different ways of recording what you have learned. Ideas for this may come from the things recommended for Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic learners..remember you don't have to be a Kinaesthetic learner to use kinaesthetic tools
One of the best ways of learning is to explain what you have learned to someone else..learning does not have to be an isolated activity!
Highlight the important key words in your notes. Try and organise these into a topic skeleton which you can test your understanding of by recreating part of the ‘skeleton'.
Try to find patterns in what you are learning..the brain likes making associations eg make up stories, mnemonics, sequencing activities, key word cards
Try to find ways of testing whether you have learned anything eg do past questions, a quick test on Bite-Size revision or SAM Learning, make up your own test or, any other methods

Organising revision:

For each subject make a list of the important topics you need to cover
Find out how many exam papers there are for each subject and what each paper will cover
Make a detailed revision timetable weeks before the exam. Decide what you will be studying and when...make sure you peak for the exam!!
Organise a place to work. Try and find some wall space to display work
Collect together any resources you might need such as coloured pens/pencils, paper, post-it notes, books etc.Learning will be interrupted if you need to go looking for something
Have past papers/questions available to give yourself a quick test
Try to get access to a computer with internet facility...there are many good revision sites
Keep your revision organised - know exactly where you are with things. If your timetable slips, reorganise it so that you still cover everything.
Make note of how you spend your time during a day. Look back over the day and figure out how you could use your time more effectively. Decide what's important and what's not

Some thoughts from someone who has reflected on their own learning experience

- the hardest part of revision was "getting started"

- my revision was helped by breaking down the syllabus into smaller sections that are then simple to arrange into a revision timetable

- for GCSE level, I split the day into six parts and focused on one subject in each over a number of weeks.

- copies of all the syllabuses means you are able to check individually that you have learnt everything necessary for the exam

- help in lesson time with the production of a revision timetable can be really helpful

- I found that sitting down to work for hours on end did not work. Instead I constructed a timetable of five hours of work a day with plenty of breaks. I found it much easier to stick to.

- be more realistic about what you can achieve in a day, learning how to structure time is an essential life skill

- each subject requires different learning methods;

- revising for examination of foreign languages I have found writing key words and phrases on index cards in bright colours has been an effective technique. The cards are small enough to fit in a bag or pocket and easy to learn one at a time whilst, for instance, waiting for a bus

- for aspects of maths and other subjects that students just have to learn a good tip is to put them on a piece of paper and stick this on a surface that you look at a lot. For Maths doing as many questions as I could on the topic area helped enormously )

- other ideas include using spider diagram or mind maps

- for the times when textbooks become too monotonous and more interaction is required, use one of the thousands of revision sites on the internet

- the BBC has a wide variety of websites involving video clips, audio sound bites and more which are great for learning basic facts.

- discussing questions and answers with a friend studying the same subjects can really help clarify contentious issues.

- knowing that a friend is going to test you on a topic in the day can also be a focusing motivation to work hard

- when I think back on revision, I am reminded the brain makes associations in different ways, and this fact reminds me of what I was listening to when I learnt it. Whilst some people find it impossible to do homework and revise listening to music, I simply cannot work without background noise and use specific songs as memory ‘triggers'

- I have found mnemonics particularly useful too, but the problem with this learning technique is that it can take substantial lengths of time. I found that if I agreed with friends who were using a similar method then we could divide up the task and have a bigger resource in a shorter period of time.

- past papers to practice under examination conditions provide an opportunity to see the way in which questions are phrased and to ascertain the pace and writing speed required

- ultimately, revision is a means to an end ... Be it a place at university or enhanced self-esteem and a chance to show what you can achieve, revision is usually worth it in the end. I wanted good results to study the courses I wanted at A level