We all know that exam-time is stressful. There’s all that information to retain and some of us are just no good at that, right?
Well, actually, there are loads of methods that you can put into play during revision time that will make the brain more absorbent – soaking in those facts and figures, putting them into practice and making sure that you’re prepared for the big day.
1. Start revising early.
I don’t mean get up at 3 am. But laying about in bed ’til 2 pm isn’t going to help either.
Math’s is all about patterns, so why not start by developing some healthy structure in your revision activity and get revising well before “the night before”!
Cramming everything in at the last minute is a sure-fire way of instilling nothing but panic. Start at least a month before the exam and you’ll have plenty of time to get your brain into gear, ready for the big day.
2. Know what the exam dates are
I know it sounds obvs, but if you have a specific date and time, you’ll be able to focus your brain much more successfully.
As they say – there’s nothing like a deadline to get the mind focused!
Knowing when your exams are will help you to create a decent revision timetable. Revision is all about variety and keeping the mind engaged. A solid month of focusing on one exam when you might have several is going to send you stir-crazy!
3. Make a revision timetable
This is all about being organised (and for most of us, that doesn’t come naturally!). A scatter-gun approach to revision is likely to create a disorderly knowledge base and that’s going to make it hard to remember anything!
Plan your sessions in manageable chunks.
Putting aside the whole of your Saturday may work, but revision is like feeding a cat – “little and often”. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and all that.
Give yourself 30-minute revision slots. Decide what topic to explore and stick to it.
If you find Trigonometry a serious yawn trigger, then make sure you give yourself something nice to do afterwards. If you’ve assigned 3 sessions of 30 minutes in the morning, give yourself 30 minutes to go for a bike ride, kill zombies on the PlayStation or listen to your favourite playlist afterwards.
4. Don’t constantly re-design your revision timetable!
I remember spending hours and hours and hours creating beautiful colour-coded timetables that would have put Picasso to shame. So beautiful were my timetables, that I would spend hours just admiring its beauty.
But then, I’d realise that I hadn’t actually done any revision. And I still didn’t understand what a quadratic equation was!
Your revision timetable should take you 20 minutes to put together! And leave it at that!
5. Take breaks!
Breaks are important, but you MUST earn them. If you have a particularly difficult subject to tackle today, take the sting out of the tail by planning something great to do afterwards.
Don’t always instantly think – “I’ve earned that chocolate bar!” Think about getting outside and taking in some fresh air. It will help your brain to remain focused later.
6. Stick revision notes all around the house
- Make yourself some flashcards.
- A decent flashcard should summarise a concept, a formula or a fact. Don’t clutter it with too much detail. Think visual.
- Pin your cards around the house.
- When you get into your exam, you can think “Aha! The surface area of a circle – that was on the fridge!”
- Great for visual learners.
7. Test yourself!
Reading through your exercise book is useful for reminding yourself about equations and formulas, but maths is a practical subject. It’s all about the application of the formula that counts.
Set yourself some questions and sit there until you’ve resolved them. It’s much better to be “doing” than just staring at the page. You’ll be “doing” in the exam, so it needs practice.
8. Refer to your textbook
Textbooks are where your teachers get most of their questions from, so it makes sense to use your textbook to help you revise.
Your own notes might be a little scrappy – you might have been staring out of the window whilst the teacher was talking, or you might have been sneaking a Facebook update and missed something really important.
Textbooks have all the explanations and examples, so do refer to them when you’re revising. Make your own flash-cards from your notes and pin them around the house. Re-learn it right!
9. Practice with past papers
The best way to prepare yourself for the big day is to acquaint yourself with the exact type of question you’ll get asked in the exam.
Although the questions are never going to be exactly the same, it will give you a pretty good idea of the array of problems you’ll be asked to solve.
You’ll get familiar with what the test will look like, the types of questions asked and how they’re worded. And it’s the best way to determine what subject areas you need to focus on.
10. Two heads are better than one!
This requires a fair amount of self-discipline but revising with a friend or in small groups can be really effective.
One of the best ways to really learn something is to teach it.
So, pick a maths area that you find particularly difficult to grasp and get your friend to explain it to you. And do the same for them.
When explaining a concept to someone else, you’re forced to really question your understanding. It’s the best way to cement your knowledge.
Just don’t spend the entire time looking at magazines and moaning about your parents!