Published online March 2015

    The summer exams are approaching. Cyrus Afkhami, founder of My Tutor Club, explains how revising the right way can be the key to success.

    The Easter break is a crucial time for students sitting exams in the summer term, whether that is the 13+ Common Entrance, GCSEs, AS or A2-levels or IB exams. However, it is remarkable how many students do not know how to revise. Approaching revision in the wrong way wastes time, reduces confidence and is more tiring.

    Here are six guidelines to ensure that your child revises effectively and efficiently during the Easter break.

    Take a break
    Tired students do not learn and will not perform to their full potential. They have finished a long, hard term at school and they should spend the first five to seven days of the Easter holidays resting, relaxing and rejuvenating. This does not necessarily mean forgetting about studies all together – an hour per day just to keep the brain ‘warm’ is sufficient – but certainly diving into a rigorous revision programme, especially for 13+ Common Entrance candidates, is ill advised. Revision will be so much more fruitful and efficient once the mind has had some time to switch off.

    No cramming
    About five days into the Easter break, gently start to re-open the books. But, don’t over do it – there is no point working hours on end, as it is completely counter-productive.

    Create a schedule
    Break revision into manageable chunks, interspersed with breaks. Get into a routine which is realistic. One suggested routine for a GCSE or 13+ Common Entrance
    student is:

    9:15-10:15 English (either comprehension /language or literature)
    10:15-10:45 break
    10:45-11:45 maths (one topic, for example algebra)
    11:45-12:15 break
    12:15-1:15 (one of biology / chemistry / physics)
    1:15-2:15 lunch (oily fish, vegetables and a smoothie works great)
    2:15-3:15 (one history topic, for example the collapse of Weimar Republic)
    3:15-3:45 break
    3:45-4:45 (one topic from geography / religious studies / French /Latin)
    (this can be adapted for A-level and IB)

    Clearly, this timetable will vary depending on each student (the above is just a rough suggestion) but the point is that creating a timetable that you can stick to will give you the structure and discipline to revise a variety of subjects in an efficient way.

    Focus on revising past exam questions
    It is important to go through past exam papers as part of the learning (and later on the revision) process. Going through past exam papers, taking down notes, understanding how various maths problems are solved and paying attention to the various ways that questions can be worded are what students should be focusing on.

    Start practicing under timed conditions
    Students should start practicing solving problems or writing essays under timed conditions sooner rather than later. No doubt students will find this difficult at the beginning, but that’s not a problem, because the more questions you practice under timed conditions, the better time management skills will become. When the exams do finally arrive, students will be better accustomed to the time pressure.

    Encourage and Reward
    Regular encouragement helps students of every age, and ‘rewarding’ a good day’s revision with a trip to the park, a film or a lovely dinner provides a meaningful target to aim for. Reinforce the idea that in less than two months the exams will all be over and after that there will be two months of summer holidays ahead.

    My Tutor Club holding revision Booster courses throughout the year for Maths, English and Science. To find out more, please contact us.

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