Examinations can be a very stressful experience for everyone involved. We have put this page together to help students with their revision and with preparing for their exams.
This section also includes all the information parents need to support their year 11 child as they approach their mock examinations, their GCSE examinations, or any other exam that they may be taking during their time at Arena.
Below are evidence-based revision strategies developed by cognitive scientists. Please take the time to download and read through these excellent strategies.
Below you will find some fantastic revision tips to help you with your revising. You should be aiming to some revision every day, with increased focus on the run up to your mock and real exams. The more hard work and time you put in now, the better your grades will be when you receive them.
Tip 1: Start Now! (if you haven’t already!)
- The earlier revision starts, the easier it is for your brain to remember more information
- Decide to do 45 minutes tonight (not homework, but extra revision of your choice!)
- If that seems like a lot, do 20 minutes, have a 5 minute break, and do another 20 minutes.
Tip 2: Plan your revision using a timetable
- Planning out your revision means you can spend more time revising and less time worrying you’ve forgotten something.
- Spread your subjects out during the week – at least 45 minutes per subject per week!
- Be specific – say which topic you will revise. Have a list of topics, and tick them off when you’ve added them to your revision timetable
- Use your revision book or exam board specification to help you know which specific topics you need to cover
- Don’t spend hours making a beautifully drawn, colour-coded timetable – you may end up spending longer planning than actually revising!
Tip 3: Avoid distractions
- Revise somewhere with good lighting, with your pens close by, your phone out of sight and your TV and music off.
- Music does not help people learn new or complex material. You learn better in a quiet environment (music takes up space in your brain that you could be filling with information!)
- If you must, reward yourself by checking your phone after a block of revision, at least 20 minutes! (You could even ask someone to look after it for you to avoid temptation!)
- 45 minutes per subject per week!
Tip 4: Don’t just read your revision book!
- You will only remember around 10% of what you read!
- You need to write things down (but do not copy out large amounts of text)
- Instead of reading, try summarising key points from the revision book, by writing up to 5 key bullet points on each topic and underlining or highlighting key words
- creating diagrams or flow charts to represent information
Tip 5: Remember to chunk your revision!
- You need to revise for at least 45 minutes per subject per week…
- …but study little bits of topics regularly
- For example, you could spread your 45 minutes of revision for each subject every week into 3 lots of 15 minute revision sessions on different days
- Spacing out each topic will help you remember it
Tip 6: Test yourself
- Trying to retrieve information from your brain can double the amount you remember
- This can be achieved by any sort of recall activity (it doesn’t have to be exam questions):
- List all the keywords you can remember for a topic, and write what each one means
- Answer questions without looking at your book for help
- Write about a topic from memory
- Create a mind map linking topics together
- Ask a friend to ask you questions
- Don’t forget to check if you were correct, and add anything you missed (using a different colour really helps!)
- If you’re struggling to remember a topic, add it to your revision timetable to cover again
Tip 7: : Complete past exam papers and questions
- You’ll find it far easier to answer questions in the exam if you’ve tried similar ones at home beforehand
- Treat past questions and papers like an exam:
- Time yourself
- Attempt all questions
- Work in silence
- No cheating!
- Mark the paper yourself, adding corrections in a different colour
- Ask your teacher which exam board and specification you are doing – you will find lots of past papers and mark schemes online
Tip 8: Create flash cards
- Work best when you create them yourself
- You can write a question on the front, and key points to include on the back
- This way other people can help you revise really easily as the answers are on the back!
- Don’t just copy information on to them… use your memory
- Write a keyword or topic title (using your revision book for help as to what to choose)
- Read the relevant part of your revision book
- Go back to the card and write notes from memory about the keyword on it
- Check it’s correct, and add missing info in another colour
- You can then find the relevant topic card for help when you come across the word again
Tip 9: Use a variety of revision strategies
- Don’t just stick to the ones that you like, you may find something new works even better!
- Teach somebody else (90% retention!)
- Your grandma or little brother would love to learn about what an atom is…!
- Create mnemonics
- It’s best to come up with your own (80% retention!)
- You can make these on flash cards
Tip 10: It’s not too late to make a difference
- Aim for at least 45 minutes, per subject, per week
- If you’ve been revising, are you doing what is most effective? Remember:
- Write specific topics on your revision timetable, and stick to it!
- Don’t just read notes, make notes!
- Use recall strategies to test yourself (past questions, using flash cards with answers on the back, reading a page then writing bullet points of what you remember…)
Tip 11: Use diagrams to show information
- Diagrams are a great way to simplify complicated information
- These work best when you create them yourself
- Try turning information into:
- Flow charts
- Venn Diagrams
- Visual Organisers
- You can then use them to revise from before an exam
Tip 12: Don’t just do the ‘easy’
- It’s tempting to focus on topics you like, but now is the time to ensure you are covering what you don’t like – the ‘hard’.
- Don’t leave tricky topics too late! You need time to process the information and revisit it again
- Add the most difficult topics to your revision timetable to make sure you don’t miss them
- Don’t forget, keep doing 45 minutes, per subject, per week
Tip 13: Use post-its
- Write a question on the front of a post-it, and the answer on the back.
- Or a keyword on the front and definition on the back
- If you struggle to think of questions, use past exam papers and mark schemes
- Stick these around your bedroom, (on objects you use often, or just on your wall or door) or even around the house!
- Every time you walk past, read a post-it, and see if you know the answer on the back
- If you get the question correct, take the post-it down (move it to a ‘know’ pile, or donate it to a friend!)
- If you get it wrong, stick it back up until you know it!
- These can also be used to get others to help you revise – give them your pack of post-its and get them to test you
Tip 14: Take your revision with you
- Visiting friends or family over the weekend? Don’t leave your revision at home!
- Don’t take too much! Be realistic and stick to a couple of subjects
- Get them to help you by asking questions using your flashcards or post-its
- Teach them something new (90% retention!)
- This applies for half-term too!
Tip 15: Revisit past topics
- Revisiting topics regularly is key to building long term memory
- Go back to topics you’ve already revised, just briefly, to check you still remember
- Make sure you pick topics you found difficult to remember
- If you’re struggling with something add it to your timetable so you don’t forget to revisit it
- 45 minutes per subject per week
Tip 16: Sleep & Eat Properly
- Sleep is more important than you’d imagine — it helps your brain store all the information you’ve learned throughout the day.
- Don’t stay up late revising, it’s counterproductive!
- Drink plenty of water
- A cup of water every few hours
- Eating healthy foods will also boost your concentration throughout the day, choose:
- Oily fish (tuna, salmon)
- Eggs (also in quiche, omelette, pancakes, Yorkshire puddings and cake!)
- Fresh fruit and vegetables (especially strawberries and broccoli – but maybe not together!)
- ‘Brown’ bread and wholegrain cereal
- Tomatoes (including ketchup!)
- Tea or Coffee (no more than 2-3 cups per day, and not after 6pm) Don’t drink energy drinks. It’s too much caffeine and doesn’t actually help long-term memory
Tip 17: Take ‘Active’ Breaks
- How often you need to take a break will vary for different people
- For example, take 5 minutes every 20 minutes of revision, or 15 minutes every 45 minutes
- Do something in your break – not just going on your phone! Being active will help boost your memory!
- Go for a run
- Play some football
- Breathing Technique for Focus & De-stressing
- Help with household chores
- Do 20 push-ups, squats and jumping jacks
- Full Body 5 Minute Home Workout
- Run up and down the stairs
- Play with your pets
- Go for a walk
Tip 18: Prepare for your specific exams
- Make sure you know how to achieve maximum marks in each exam; read through the exam tips sheet and highlight your subjects
- Spend some time practicing skills that are on all exams, e.g.:
- Reading the question properly and spotting key information
- Understanding command words
- Make sure you know what to expect in each exam – your subject teacher can help you
Tip 19: Prepare the night before each exam
- Read through your subject specific exam tips
- Read all your revision notes, focusing on everything you had to add in a different colour (last minute revision is the ONLY time that you can remember what you read!)
- You may feel silly, but reading different sections in a different accent can actually help you remember!
- Write a ‘last-minute checklist’ with all the facts or information you still find hard to remember – a maximum of 20 facts
- Pack your revision notes (and your last-minute checklist!) to take to school for last minute revision before you go in
- Get plenty of sleep! Go to bed (to sleep not to watch TV or go on your phone!) before 10pm at the latest – you need 9 hours of sleep
Tip 20: Stay calm and focused
- Focus on answering questions you’re confident with first. If your exam has different sections, do the section you are most confident with first.
- This will calm you down as you know what you’re doing.
- Remember the top tips for all exams, and good luck!