6 BEST WAYS TO REVISE
Below, we have prepared information on six revision methods, which can help you revise more efficiently and effectively. Students are encouraged to try out as many of these methods as possible and as early as possible to see which ones they find engaging and valuable.
1. Multiple-Choice Questions
They may seem simple on the surface, but multiple-choice questions are a fast and effective way to both review knowledge and assess your current level of knowledge in critical areas. When you have a dozen or so knowledge areas to revise, it is crucial that you can prioritize the least-familiar topics. In less than an hour, you could complete multiple-choice questions covering all the areas you need to complete for your GCSE or A-Level, and therefore have a good grasp of where your revision priorities should lie.
Multiple-choice questions also encourage critical thinking as you have to assess the choices to get to the right one quickly, and you can test yourself by explaining out loud why each incorrect answer is wrong.
2. Retrieval Practice
Retrieval practice is about creating questions for yourself as you read through your material. These questions are designed specifically to force you to recall information in order to provide an answer genuinely. Its effectiveness lies in that idea of “genuine recall” --- because you cannot rely on any prompt or tip in the question or notes (the questions do not come with additional prompts), you can only rely on your memory. It is probably one of the most time-consuming revision methods, so you should start this one early to see if it works for you.
3. Knowledge Organisers
When starting, the amount of knowledge you have to remember seems overwhelming. It is hard for students to visualise what all the main areas of knowledge are. A knowledge organiser puts all the key topics and main points onto one sheet of paper --- all in one place. This allows you, in one glance, to see the extent of what you need to revise and also gives you a kind of checklist so that you can tick off-topic areas as you revise them in more detail.
4. Past Papers
There is still nothing like past papers to give yourself a self-assessment and see how your revision is going. Past papers are not just simulations; they were once the real deal; the actual exam taken by actual students in previous years. No other practice questions can quite compare. Since past papers are more limited, it is good to use them sparingly, checking your progress at various weekly/monthly milestones to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
Past papers are also perfect for practising your exam skills like time management and understanding the command words.
The trusty flashcard is an absolute mainstay in education. You may only think of using flashcards when making foreign language study --- vocabulary cards, grammar points, verb conjugation etc. --- but they are far more versatile than you think. Prepare flashcards in multiple subjects as a fantastic and efficient way to lay knowledge foundations, and keep your basic concepts at the forefront of your mind.
The size of the cards prohibits you from going into much detail with them, but their simplicity allows you to employ them in different ways, and their small size means you can practice them wherever you are. See below for one idea on how to make use of flashcards.
6. The Leitner Method (with Flashcards)
German science journalist Sebastian Leitner created this innovative but straightforward method in the 1970s. It involves creating at least three containers for your flashcards, each denoting how well you know the content of each card.
In the first box, you would label “Every Day,” the second “Tuesday and Thursday”, and the final one “Friday.” Starting on Monday, the cards with which you are least familiar go in the “Every Day” box, while the most familiar go to “Tuesday and Thursday.” On Tuesday, you practice the “Tuesday and Thursday” cards again. Any you struggle with or forget, get “demoted” back to “Every Day”, and those you know well get “promoted” up to “Friday.”
Thus, it continues, a systematic and careful approach to flashcard use that helps you prioritise unfamiliar content and keep cards automatically more shuffled and valuable.
Try for yourself…
Experiment with these methods and others that come to your mind. Hopefully, what these ideas can do at the very least is inspire you to try new methods and discover your route to exam success. Never forget that the race to completing both GCSEs and A-Levels is a marathon, not a spring. You are also in this “race” for yourself and not for others, so focus on your revision, your own goals and your success, and you are sure to get there with hard work and determination.