Nine revision tips for mock examinations
When school returns after the Christmas break the older girls are plunged straight into mock examinations and learning how to learn has been a part of the preparation for their GCSEs and A levels.
An article in the magazine Schools Week reports that a leading cognitive neuropsychologist at Goldsmiths University, Dr Ashok Jansari urges teachers to abandon rote learning as this does not lead to long term memory retention. In a study of students in East Asia those who learned by memorising rather than using strategies where information is attached to facts performed worse across the core skills of reading, maths and science.
I know from my own experience as a teacher that children get better at remembering information the more times they are tested on it. Repetition over a period of time is a good way to ensure facts and details are retained but Dr Jansari says this is not sufficient and students need to attach that information to meaning which helps them recall information for longer. There are many strategies to help with this such as creating rhymes or mnemonics. Furthermore it is crucial to understand the work studied so that information in an exam is applied to answers.
My advice to any student studying over this Christmas break is as follows:
- You need some rest so plan to give yourself a few days away from revision.
- Don’t revise for too long in any one session – the absolute maximum is two hours.
- There are three sessions in a day – morning, afternoon and evening – only plan to revise in two out of the three.
- Keep yourself hydrated and eat healthily.
- Take breaks in the form of exercise – take the dog for a walk.
- Use practice papers to test yourself.
- Don’t create anxiety by listening to friends and how much revision they have done.
- Keep off social media – it is an unwanted time wasting distraction.
- Try not to be too much of an angry bear around family and friends – they are only trying to help.