The right kind of revision can make or break a grade and obviously there's not a teacher in the country who doesn't place great store in revising before an exam.
But how? There are those students that like talking it through with you in the May half term (I suppose it's nice they're showing an interest - even at the eleventh hour), those that think they can just read the book and everything will fall into place, those that love the revision cards replete with eight different colours and immaculate underlining and those with memories like sieves that struggle just to remember who you are.
I always figured the best revision was about layering - like double bagging in the shop in the days of flimsy plastic bags (hail the 5p tax!). Several different, short, intensive activities on the topic, revisited and remembered an hour, a day, a week later to strengthen the knowledge. Here's some top tips about how to achieve the layered effect:
- 'Tiered' flashcards, timetables, tables, spidergrams. What do I mean by tiered? It's easy (well easier) for students to just revise facts. Get them to revise the other important stuff too - analysis, evaluation and/or judgement. Knowing why a fact is important is just as important as knowing the fact. Whatever medium the students are creating to revise, get them to tier the points so that it also includes impact, effect, and relative importance compared to other factors.
- Pictorial aids. Are there visual aids that you could use in your subject? People, characters, places, buildings, objects or maps. Ask students to make notes on these and those more visually inclined will hopefully remember the details attached to the image.
- Put up brick walls. Give students something to aim for by posing statements that they need to break down with evidence. For instance, 'Elizabeth I wanted England to be Protestant'. It might be easier to recall information if there's a definite demolition to aim for.
- Time-pressure planning. When all the revision is done, students will need to deliver under pressure so various one-minute planning activities flex their muscles. They'll be practising recall, ordering their thoughts, and they can then compare their plan with notes/textbooks for instant feedback.
About the Author:
Julie Murray is Education Licences Manager at CLA, which means she trains and educates licencees in schools, further and higher education institutions about CLA licences and how they fit in to the wider world of copyright. Prior to working at CLA, Julie was Head of History and Politics at an 11-18 comprehensive in London.