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Now for the nitty gritty!

Now for the nitty gritty!

Setting aside manageable chunks of time for study and revision and persuading the rest of the family to respect them was a good start. Now take control of how you will USE those chunks of time.

A very simple first step is to check your exam timetable and arrange your revision sessions in the same order. The idea is to make sure you come to each exam with your revision still as fresh in your mind as possible – it’s not going to help much if your first revision session covers the material you’ll be facing in your last exam!

Next, set your goals and prioritise your revision accordingly. Be realistic about what grades you need and can achieve in each subject. If you don’t get at least a C in maths and English you could be resitting them for the rest of your school career, so make sure you give them the time they need. But other goals are important too. What do you need to get onto your courses for next year? What grades are required by your chosen university? Have a look at the goal-setting print-out and see if it helps you.

Now look at each subject individually – and honestly. Ask yourself: what ground do I really need to cover? It’s a question only you can really answer. By all means ask your teachers where they think you’re weakest and strongest; by all means ask your tutor! But in the end you’re the one who’s going to be on your own in that exam room, and you’re the only person who knows what you can and can’t remember. So before you dive into your revision, take the time to go back through your work and review your performance for yourself.

You’ll soon know what you really need to concentrate on, but it might help keep you focused if you make a chart. Under each subject list the sub-topics you need to cover. For example, for maths it could be Pythagoras, percentage change, geometry, etc. You can use checklists from school, the contents page of a text book, or a study guide to help you. Grade each sub-topic with a scale that appeals to you – smiley face, frowny face, terrified face; green, amber, red; easy, possible, omg – whatever you like best.

Start your revision with the topics you’re okay but not brilliant at – the ones you’ve marked frowny face/amber/possible. These are the topics where any improvement in your performance is going to count most. Then move on to the terrified face/red/omg topics – you need to have at least a basic grasp of these. Finally, the smiley face/green/easy topics are most likely to be those where you need no more than a last-minute brush-up.

Now to get down to it! Gather your resources around you: your school notes, a good study guide, your text books, BBC Bitesize, etc. It’s always a good idea to start with your own notes because they’ll help jog your memory about the classes themselves and what was said about each topic. You may need to use mnemonics to help you remember key facts or things you feel weak on. One very helpful trick is to write shorter or condensed versions of them as you go along, turning them into manageable chunks that you can memorise more easily.

Here’s a video on taking Cornell notes which you might find helpful.

Other tricks that will help you remember might be to mark them with highlighters, write them on postcards, sing them to a favourite tune, write them on a colour-coded poster that you can stick to the wall – anything that makes them stand out in your memory.

Finally, don’t overdo it! Stay disciplined: if you’ve given yourself a half-hour chunk per topic in each two-hour session, stick to it. Then you can give yourself a small reward – a biscuit, say – and get a psychological boost by ticking off that topic on your revision chart. If you’re still stuck at the end of your half-hour, make a note to ask for help, and move on.

The same rule applies to your two-hour sessions, ie: stop after two hours! You have a life to live, household chores to do, friends to see. The great thing about discipline and concentration is that they help you stay calm and happy, and those are the keystones of success!