It’s been a tumultuous year for students and parents alike; and whilst COVID-19 makes an action-packed social calendar an unlikely scenario over the Christmas vacation, the idea of blocking out days upon days for study might be a bit much. All work and no play is a difficult concept to accept, especially after a gruelling 2020! As such, top of our list of revision tips has to be devising a plan that integrates balance and structure.
Planning ahead is crucial in order to ensure that the available time is used effectively – and that you’re able to set (and meet) realistic targets. If you map out a schedule that includes a good balance of both work and leisure time, you’ll be surprised by how much can be achieved in (what seems like) a relatively short space of time. Happily, students and parents are now very familiar with working from home, so the thought of knuckling down in the family home should seem manageable. Afterwards, allow yourself some time off: if you’re going to perform to your full potential, you need to be rested and rejuvenated by the time you come to sit your mock exams. And don’t only focus on the Christmas vacation: factor in the time you’ll have in early 2021, too. You don’t need to lose sleep and cram relentlessly – play the long game, work steadily and diligently for the next few months, and you’re sure to reap the rewards.
Picture the scene. You arm yourself with your notes from the year, a handful of highlighters, and a comfy chair, ready to spend hours re-reading and colour-coding key insights. Something is bound to ‘sink in’, right?
Wrong. This slightly-lazy study method isn’t really revision at all; at least, not the most effective type. If you really want to use your time efficiently, you need to push yourself – you’re much more likely to refine ideas and commit important information to memory if you stimulate your brain. Tackling practice papers, asking family members to test you, or creating flash cards through which to quiz yourself will hone your cognitive skills; in addition, shorter – but more intense – revision sessions are much more effective than hours of gentle re-reading. You can still highlight crucial quotes or key insights if doing so will help you pick them out in future study sessions – but don’t rely on this as a complete form of revision in itself. Be sure to switch subjects every hour or two to avoid brain fatigue, too.
Revision can feel isolating – especially after what has been a particularly isolating year. When locked away, hunched over the books, it’s not uncommon to feel cut off. It’s also likely that the family home might seem rather chaotic right now: Christmas is typically a busy time, and even if there are fewer social calls than normal, for many students the house will be unusually busy this holiday season (many parents are working from home and younger siblings may be stuck indoors). Feeling cut off from friends whilst in a full – and potentially noisy – house could be quite an unhappy combination – and not the best for study success. One of the most important revision tips we can give you is to find a space that’s conducive to learning… and that doesn’t necessarily have to be inside!
If you find it hard to concentrate at home – or if you miss your classmates – why not get out into the fresh air? Meet a friend for a walk in the park and go over your notes as you wander; or tell your friend everything you know about a certain subject (an action that can really clarify your knowledge and ideas); or take it in turns to quiz each other. A change of scenery can make a world of difference; not only does this revitalise the brain and sharpen focus, but also a quick blast of winter sunshine releases serotonin (which happens to be a feel-good hormone).
If you’re struggling to come up with an action plan or need expert guidance to ensure you achieve the best grades in your mock exams, booking some time with an expert tutor is highly recommended. Our specialists will devise a strategy to tackle any problem areas or gaps in knowledge, tailoring the plan to suit you. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you make the most of your time off – and ensure you hit the ground running in January.