Tag Archive: revision

  1. Top Tips for Revising English Literature Anthology Poetry

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    If there is one component of the GCSE English Literature course that fills most students with dread, it’s the Anthology Poetry unit.

    And to be perfectly honest, it’s not hard to see why.

    If you are studying the AQA course, there are 15 poems to study; for Eduqas things are even more challenging with a whopping 18 to get through.

    What Does the Exam Question Ask Students to do?

    When it comes down to it in the actual exam, students will only ever have to write about two of these poems. One of the poems you have studied will be printed in the exam paper. You will need to write about this poem and then choose another poem you have studied to compare it with.

    But because you have no idea which poem will feature in the exam, there’s no way you can cut corners in any way. You really need to study all the poems.

    That might not sound too bad…

    Until you remember that you are not allowed to take an anthology into the exam!

    In days gone by, students could take their annotated anthology into the exam. Then, for a few years, students were given a ‘clean’ unannotated anthology. Now, since 2015, students are not allowed to have an anthology in the exam at all.

    This means that essentially this component has become little more than a test of a student’s memory.

    But All is Not Lost!

    Fear not though, all is not lost.

    While there isn’t a simple hack or way of avoiding the fact that you are going to have to remember a load of quotes, there is a way of focusing your revision, so that you just concentrate on the really important stuff.

    So, here goes:

    1. You should be able to summarise each poem in a sentence or two. Even better, narrow it down to a couple of key words/themes.
    2. Choose a key quote for each poem. Approach this as if you could only use one quote per poem – the absolute best one – that sums up the whole message of the poem.
    3. Try to learn another 4 (minimum) important quotes. Aim for quotes that cover a range of ideas – not just 4 quotes that basically say the same thing.
    4. Identify one of two methods – poetic devices, language, or structure – that each poet uses to get their ideas across.
    5. Identify which poems go well together and provide the best comparisons.

    Follow the above 5 steps and you will be well-prepared for the demands of the exam question.

    Finally, bear in mind this last point…

    When it comes down to quotes, it’s never simply about how many you have got. The most important thing is what you do with them. Make your quotes work for you. They should never be more than a line long – and if you can narrow them down to a few words – or even just one word – all the better. They will be a lot easier to remember this way, and you will dazzle the examiner with your understanding of the most important words that a poet has used.

    You can do this! – And with that we will leave you with 5 more tips for the secret to success during exams.

  2. How to Instil the Importance of Exams Upon Your Students

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    How do you instil the importance of exams upon your students without putting the fear of God into them?

    This conundrum is one of the biggest challenges facing teachers today in the classroom.

    It’s a real problem because of 3 factors: the nature of teenage life, human nature in general, and the nature of schools.

    The Nature of Teenage Life

    Young people, it’s worth remembering, go through a lot of change and upheaval during their teenage years. Their bodies are developing; their emotions and minds are developing; and they are beginning to find themselves and their identity.

    There’s a lot going on, a lot to handle, and an awful lot to deal with during your teenage years.

    Not least the pressure of exams.

    Human Nature

    The psychology behind our actions and behaviour is extremely complex. However, when it comes down to it – in certain aspects – human nature is really straightforward.

    When we are faced with pressure, some people seem to thrive on it – even seeing it as some kind of incentive. In essence, we rise to the challenge.

    On the flipside, many of us seem to do the opposite when faced with pressure. We find it really difficult to cope with. In essence, we buckle under the challenge.

    That can manifest itself in several different ways. We might try to deny the importance of something or put off dealing with the issue head-on – kind of hoping that whatever it is that is causing us the pressure or stress will somehow magically go away.

    Which, of course, it never does.

    Part of our ability to deal with challenges in our lives comes from experience.

    This makes dealing with pressure especially challenging for teenagers. For more help understanding what’s going on inside the teenage brain, check out this BBC article.

    The Nature of Schools

    Schools exist under the lingering and looming threat of Ofsted. Not only that, schools are at also the mercy of government decisions and education budgets. All of this piles pressure onto schools.

    Under constant pressure to continually improve exam results, the pressure school leadership teams feel feeds down to curriculum team and subject leaders. This, in turn, is passed onto classroom teachers.

    And – you’ve guessed it – teachers then pass this pressure down to their students.

    Teachers are feeling it, so the students they teach feel it too.

    It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

    So, What’s the Solution?

    In all honesty, there are probably at least another couple of blogs waiting to get out (possibly even a book!) on this topic. We’ve actually posted another blog ourselves on the matter. But to keep things short and sweet here, let’s leave it with this:

    Just because exams are important doesn’t mean that we have to talk about them all the time.

    We don’t have to mention exams in every lesson or every assembly.

    Learning, exam preparation, and performance in exams all have a process. Refine those processes and have faith in them.

    Think how an athlete responds after a disappointing result or performance. They don’t panic or make any knee-jerk reactions; they trust in the process that got them there in the first place.

    Trust in the process is the key.

  3. The Easter Holidays: Revise and Re-energise!

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    This year’s exam season is almost upon us: GCSE exams begin the week beginning 6 May, and AS/A levels kick in the week after. That leaves – at the time of writing – just 6 full weeks left before the exams begin. And, of course, 2 of those weeks are not weeks in school or college; they are the Easter holidays.

    And that’s the subject of our latest blog – the importance of making the most of the Easter holidays and of using the time to revise and re-energise.

    Making the Most of the Easter Holidays

    The Easter break really is – excuse the pun – a Godsend!

    After a full day at school or college, it’s difficult to do a significant amount of revision in the evening as well because students are bound to be tired.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind that once the exams have begun, they come thick and fast – and they really take it out of you, so revising during this period should be no more than a last chance to go over things; a last minute refresher and putting the proverbial final icing on the cake before each exam.

    This is why the Easter break is so important. It offers a run of full days that can be used to really knuckle down to some serious revising.

    Plan your time carefully and you’ll be able to achieve a lot during the two weeks. Looking for some extra help? Check out our blog post on how to make a revision schedule.

    Getting the Balance Right

    Not that we are advocating spending entire days revising for two weeks solid!

    That is absolutely not what you should be doing!

    Yes, as students start ‘the final push’, they are bound to up the ante a bit – but it is vital that students (and families) get the balance right between revision and relaxation.

    There’s a tendency to think that all the rewards and free time can come once all the exams are over.

    But, in a way, regular rewards are as important as regular revision.

    Do a Little a Lot… but do a lot of it!

    The general consensus about good exam revision advice is to revise a little a lot.

    Regular and frequent short chunks of revision are always going to be more effective than a 12-hour shift of non-stop revision. BBC bitesize has a helpful article on some top revision techniques to help you find a way of revising which works for you.

    And scheduling in little rewards and treats are important to keep the motivation going.

    You don’t want to feel completely knackered at the end of the Easter break; you want to feel re-energised!

    The Home Straight

    Once students return to school or college after the Easter break, they really are in the home straight. The start line will now be in sight.

    The Easter holiday provides an opportunity for a young person to take stock and assess where they are at in their various subjects.

    A few last minute tutoring sessions can often be just the thing to get you fully ‘match ready’.

    Sometimes, it’s a just a bit of tweaking, a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh face that can help solve any last minute worries, problems or concerns a student might have in a subject. Get in touch for a chat if you would like to book a tutor.

  4. How to Make a Revision Schedule

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    “How do I make a revision timetable?” It’s probably one of the most asked questions that students ask teachers and tutors. The bottom line is that there is no single right way to do it. Ultimately, if it works for you, it’s right!

    However, there are some basic principles and top tips to follow. If you stick to these, you will be well on the way to creating your perfect revision schedule.

    How to Make a Revision Schedule: Guiding Principles to Follow

    There are a few guiding principles to bear in mind. Firstly, most of your effort should be focused on the topics/questions that carry the most marks and the topics that you are least confident with. 

    Secondly, you should measure your progress based on topic coverage, rather than how much time you have spent revising. Finally, be prepared to adapt your revision timetable according to the rate at which you can confidently understand and memorise information.

    If you can, go Digital

    iPad and weekly schedule notebook

    It’s a really good idea to use Google Calendar. Not only is it available on both Android and iOS but it also means that your revision schedule will always be with you. After all, your smartphone is always with you, right?

    The other (even more important) reason is the flexibility it gives you. You can make changes quickly and easily. Although a revision schedule is there to be followed, it isn’t set in stone. It’s likely that you will need to make adjustments to it from time to time. If you use Google Calendar, changes and updates can be made cleanly.

    How much time have you got?

    You need to figure out how much time you actually have to revise. There is a need to strike a balance between being ambitious and being realistic. You can’t revise every hour of the day. And, even if you feel you need to, it wouldn’t do you any good anyway – you would just burn yourself out.

    You need to factor in all your normal commitments and day-to-day activities. Importantly, make sure that you include time for rest, relaxation, and free time. In the weeks and months running up to your exams, you might spend less time on these things – but you should never do away with them completely!

    Prioritise by Subject or Topic

    You need to decide which subjects you currently feel the most and least confident about. Other factors to consider are where your exams sit on your exam timetable and what your current grades look like. The key to prioritising is being honest about where you’re at right now.

    On that note, don’t avoid the topics you are least confident about and find most difficult. In fact, these are exactly the ones you should be prioritising!

    Revise a little, a lot

    There’s a temptation to say you are going to spend 10 hours revising a certain topic so that you’ll know it inside out. The reality is that such a revision marathon will probably be a waste of time. 

    It’s much more effective to revise a little, a lot. 30-minute bursts are the best. Of course, momentum is a great thing. Just because you have allocated a 30-minute time slot, it doesn’t mean that you must stop the moment you reach the 30-minute mark. If you have built some momentum up, keep going for a bit longer! Don’t take a break just because your timetable says so – take one when you need it.

    Finally, if at first, you don’t succeed, don’t give up! 

    There are bound to be times when things go wrong: topics you can’t master, sessions you might miss… there will be setbacks – but don’t let these set you back too much.

    And remember, a private tutor can really help you make sense of it all. Get in touch if you think you could do with some help. It’s what we’re here for!

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