My daughter is studying at the moment for her GCSE’s so with this in mind here are my top tips – if you’d like to discover more take a look at my “ The Magic of Studying, Learning and Spelling Made Easy” CD and “ Exam Success Made Easy”
So, the exams are here again! Don’t panic and don’t pretend they’ll go away – they won’t! If you’re organised, you’ll find the exams won’t be the nightmare experience that you feared – and if you go about things the right way you’ll even get time for some fun in between!
First of all, find a good place to work. It must be quiet and uncluttered, well-lit and free from chocolate wrappers and sports socks!
Draw up a revision timetable – it’s crucial. The odd hour here and there isn’t enough to make a real difference. You need a revision plan that is realistic and that you can stick to daily that also includes breaks and meal times. Getting the balance is crucial to your success. Use the monthly, weekly and daily planners to help you plan out your days systematically. It stops you feeling overwhelmed.
When you are planning your study, mix up your weak subjects amongst your strong subjects so you don’t do all the difficult topics all at once –it’s really easy to lose your confidence when you are revising, and focusing on the tricky subjects altogether can make you go all wobbly.
Set targets that you know you can reach each day and tick them off as you achieve them- this makes you feel great and helps you move forward in small, baby steps towards your bigger goal in each subject.
Always make your own revision notes because your subconscious starts learning them as you write them out. Also when you re- read them they make sense to you as they are in your own words and style.
Make your notes short and sharp – keep to the main points. Try to get your notes on one side of paper as it makes them easier to remember. Write key facts on post- it notes and pop them on the walls in your kitchen or bedroom.
Make up silly mnemonics or rhymes ( to help you remember important dates or facts i.e big elephants cause accidents under small elephants for “because”
Use a highlighter pen and mark key areas with different colours-try making up your own symbols as if you are a visual learner this will really help you remember the facts – use mind maps and diagrams to also help you.
If you are an auditory learner try recording your notes on your I-pod or portable CD so you can listen to them in your room or when you are falling asleep. Also recite your notes out loud to yourself so you can hear them.
If you are a kinaesthetic learner move around the room while you recite information or are learning new material and try to use multimedia resources like the computer or video camera to help you study. Mind maps in different colours also help.
Test yourself often without looking at your notes, or work with a friend or member of your family testing you and focus on what you need to go over again.
Don’t overdo the time you spend hitting the books. Have a regular time for physical exercise, walk round the block with the dog, ride a bike, listen to some music or really change your environment to give your brain and eyes a break. You really will come back refreshed and able to absorb information again.
Time yourself by going over past exam papers against the clock as it gives you confidence to know the types of questions you may come cross and that you can answer in the allotted time.
Experiment with different styles of revision as it helps to alleviate the boredom and keeps you interested.
Remember to get a proper night sleep – it gives you reserves of energy.
Listen to Confidence Building CD’s that you can fall asleep to – they really give you that little extra that you may need to get you through a difficult time. (You can buy them from bookshops or Amazon)
Get yourself in a positive and confident frame of mind – think of 5 things you are really good at and visualise yourself doing those things – see what you’re doing, hear what people are saying and remember how good you feel when you are at your best and turn up the volume, sound and good feelings until you feel fantastic. As you go into your exam remember those feelings, sounds and thoughts – it will help you relax and focus on what you are good at.
Be well prepared – it takes away anxiety.
Ask for help from friends, family and school if you are feeling overwhelmed, confused or unsure. Never bottle things up – remember a problem shared is a problem halved.
Keep the bigger picture to your life – although exams are important they are only one aspect in your life and you need to keep them in perspective.
Celebrate your small, baby successes along the way – give yourself a treat – plan a visit to see your friend or watch your favourite TV programme, whatever feels like a special moment for you.
Top Tips to Successful Revision – for parents
Help your kids revise by re-arranging your family’s schedules and their usual priorities – be more lenient with their untidiness or jobs around the house.
Be more understanding and tolerant to their moods and lost tempers.
Don’t nag, blame or over criticise them about their revision or studying time. Try to talk to them in a relaxed and constructive way, helping them to plan or to get the help they need.
Make sure the house is conducive to studying – younger brothers and sisters understand that they mustn’t interrupt their studying sibling or that the TV or music isn’t up too loud generally. ( But also accept that some kids actually study better with background music or noise gently in the background.)
Give practical help like buying the correct equipment – pens, compasses or highlighters. Take away the last minute stress of not being prepared.
Suggest a family treat each week or at the end of the exams to help your child focus on the future which gives them something to look forward to. (Ask them what treat they would like.)
Prepare a good breakfast every morning and be there to send them off positively.
After each exam just listen – let your child talk it through but don’t dwell on it.
Be calm, be positive, be encouraging, be kind and be compassionate.
Let your child know that you love them, respect their efforts and will be there to support them regardless of the outcome of the results.
Have fun and still remember to laugh – a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight!
“Energy and persistence conquer all things”
Benjamin Franklin – United States author, politician and inventor (1706-1790)