Got exams? Don’t panic!

With GCSE and A Level exams approaching, a structured approach to revision can make a big difference in a short time. Piyush Gupta, Educational Consultant at Tutor Doctor explains how

Many Peterborough students are about to sit mock exams. With the final exams soon thereafter there’s still the time, with a structured, disciplined approach, to make a large impact, but the planning needs to start now!

Mock results
Sitting mock exams makes the experience more familiar second time around. Take time to understand the grade you attained. If you achieved below your own expectations you need to understand why. Was it the subject matter, your interpretation of the question, or poor exam technique? Ask your teacher or tutor if you’re unsure. Establish those parts of the syllabus you need to focus on.

Get planning
Find out from your teachers when the syllabus will be fully taught and revision classes begin. Using your syllabus as a starting point, map the weeks you are going to revise each topic, leaving at least two weeks for exam practice. Ask in advance for revision lesson plans so you can coordinate yours accordingly. Make sure the teacher is aware of your areas of concern in order that you can influence the content of these lessons. Establish common areas of concern with your peers to improve your bargaining power! Your revision timetable will take time to produce. Once produced have the discipline and flexibility to execute and revise the plan as you go along.

Note taking
It is really important to understand how you process information. We all learn differently, so see what works for you. You may like to take detailed notes which you read and digest in your own time; or listen intently ensuring you understand in real time, before making notes on key points after the lesson. Or maybe you like to create diagrams or mind maps to memorise key points. Whatever works, but give this due consideration. It’s easy to fall into the trap of just ‘sitting’ the hours allocated in you plan; you are looking for quality not quantity here. In truth only half the time may be productive. Try as much as possible to study in a place that has fewer distractions: a library, college (seek permission first) or a room in a friend’s house. Wherever you study, take frequent short breaks.

Exam practice
This is key, as you can never do too many past papers or exam-standard questions. It is important, however, not to peak too early. Perhaps reinforce each topic with an examstandard question and really test yourself by sitting entire papers under timed conditions in the last few weeks. Try and get teachers and tutors to mark and review your answers with you. Exam technique improves with practice. Remember, always read the question carefully and understand the requirements. The question is not an open invitation to write as much as you know about a topic! Allocate a time period to each question by dividing the exam time by the number of marks available and try not to exceed it. (So if the exam is two hours and there are a 100 marks allocate 1.2 (120/100) minutes per mark). Do the questions on the topics you feel most confident in first – get some good marks under your belt!. If you’re struggling with one question, move on to another to avoid losing time.

Get into a routine
Get into a set routine over the coming weeks. Take regular breaks – you are better off doing frequent short sessions rather than marathon one which risks fatigue. Get a good night’s sleep so your brain can recover. Stay healthy by eating well and taking in some exercise. Reward yourself for executing the plan or doing well in a topic.

Don’t suffer in silence
If you are struggling seek help from a teacher or a friend studying the same subject (explaining a topic to you is good revision for them too). Finally, consider engaging a tutor, as there’s no substitute for professional one-toone, tailored learning.

Tutor Doctor Tutor Doctor offers tutoring services to all ages, levels and subjects. 01733 530461,


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