As the month of March slips effortlessly away it is time for some of you to be thinking about revision, my daughter is, or should I say should be. For others the very word revision will help focus your attention and remind you that it is not too far away for you either. If only we had more time….or perhaps could better manage the time we have.
David Allen is a productivity consultant (great job title) and bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. He suggests that “‘Time management’ is a foolish idea,” “You don’t manage time. Have you ever mismanaged five minutes and come up with six? Or four-and-a-half? Time just is. Our actions are what we manage, during time.”
And if you think about it he‘s right, the amount of time you have is a matter of fact. So we just need to prioritise the tasks in that time dependant on what we want to achieve. To better organise your time it is a very good idea to have a study/revision timetable.
When to start
It is difficult to be prescriptive about when to start revision as it depends on many things: the length of the course, the level of complexity of the subject, the time you have before the exam and how many exams you are doing at any one time. But we do need a rough idea, so I am going to assume that revision has to start somewhere between two and six weeks before the exam. For some people, starting 2 weeks before the exam may sound early, but if you are studying more than one subject and or are working full time, when you actually break down the amount of hours you are revising, anything less than 2 weeks will be insufficient for an effective revision program.
There are many different ways in which you can draw up your timetable and I have included several examples below for you to print off and or download. One thing I would say is that the very process of creating your own time table will help you begin thinking about what it is you have to do, how long it will take etc. In fact you could say that your revision starts with your timetable.
- AQA timetable with activities
- Get revising example
- Get revising online timetable
- My E word timetable
- University of B’ham with tips
- Weekly & daily timetable
Don’t forget Google calendar which I use a lot and it will sync to your mobile.
But what should you do in the time available?
In order to give you some idea what you should be doing in the time available I have produced a mock-up of a revision timetable showing various activities. It is based on the assumption that you have 6 weeks before the exam.
Key to activities
- A – Produce an analysis of past exam papers so as to identify the key examinable areas
- E – Find out if your examiner has produced any specific examiner guidance or any technical articles
- N- Read through existing notes and make new revision notes based on the key examinable topics
- P – Work through past exam questions from the key examinable areas
- M – Take a mock exam
- B – Take a break
The shaded areas are weekends and X denotes the actual exams. Week 5 and 6 assumes that you are not at work if of course you do work and so have a full day to devote to your revision. As you can see of the last 5 days 2 are taken up with mock exams and the last 3 are left blank. This is because there are two parts to revision.
The first is very much to do with making notes, practicing questions based on the key examinable topics and continuing to learn but in a much more focused way than on tuition. Equally, what you are learning is far more about application, how the topic will be examined rather than what the topic is about.
The second is more about recognising that there will be some topics that you won’t be able to master in the time you have left and others that you have mastered but can’t remember some of the key prompts, definitions or formats. In this second period, we need to start committing things to memory.
Not related to time but…
I came across these videos by Dr Stephen Chew a professor of physiology at Samford University, Birmingham Alabama. They are a series of 5 videos about how to get the most out of studying. Not only are they interesting but they include some very helpful tips and hints as to how you can become more time efficient with your studying.
Video 1 Beliefs that make you fail …or succeed
Video 2 what students should know about how people learn?
Video 3 cognitive principles for optimizing learning
Video 4 putting principle for learning into practice
Video 5 I blew the exam now what
Enjoy and let me leave you with this thought “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” anon
- Help Your Child to ACE Their Exams (quazen.com)
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