Sometimes the hardest thing with revision is getting started….. This post is meant to help you think about how best to make the most difficult first steps towards securing your A* grade. I went through this with my Y11 classes before the end of term so this is just a re-cap. There are very few original thoughts here (story of my life….) but perhaps I can inspire you to get started early in the holidays with your Biology revision….?
Most important – have a plan for the Easter holidays
Work out how many days you have available to revise over the holidays. This will not be the same as the total number of days of holiday as you should have rest days where you do no work at all. Ask your parents what family commitments you have coming up, think about your social life and subtract the days when it will be impossible for you to work. This gives you a number of “working days”.
What do you do on a “working day”?
I suggest that you never try to do more than 4-5 hours of work in any one day. Revision is not measured in hours, it is measured in progress and learning. 2 hours of effective work might be better than 10 hours inefficient time at your desk. The aim here is to maximise the benefit you gain from your revision, not simply clocking up the hours.
Here is how I would organise things if it were me….. Divide the working day into three sessions:
- Morning: 9.30am – 12pm
- Afternoon: 2pm – 4.30pm
- Evening: 7pm – 9.30pm
The plan is this. On a working day you always work in the morning session, every day, no excuses…. Ask your parents to be ruthless in waking you up and don’t allow yourself ever to sleep later than 8.30am or so. There will be plenty of time for lie-ins and getting up at lunchtime in the summer holidays. By midday, you will always have done half the work of the day. How happy will that make you feel? Then choose either the afternoon or evening session (but never both) depending on how you feel and what other plans you have for the day.
How to organise a “revision session”
You need a kitchen timer like the one shown above (not to scale as the textbook is quite large and the timer is quite small…..). I bet if you ask nicely your mum or dad will let you borrow the one in the kitchen. For Biology work, you also need your textbook and revision notes. This is how I suggest you work. Set the timer to 25 minutes, switch off your phone and start work. Work at a topic until the buzzer sounds – no distractions allowed…. If your phone beeps, ignore it. Snapchat can wait! After 25 minutes stop and have 5 minutes off. Make a cup of tea, check your phone and repeat.
I suggest that you revise 5 different subjects in one session. (5 x 25 minutes) You must try to make your revision interesting so you don’t get bored. Bored people do not learn anything……
Different people learn best in different ways so do what works for you. What works for no-one is just reading…. Make notes, revision cards, write out definitions of key facts, use IT if that rocks your boat, whatever you like just do not sit and read your textbook. The key thing is to go over ideas as many times as possible, test yourself on your recall of facts and then try to practise some past paper questions. Most importantly, try to have fun! If you are enjoying it, you will be learning and that is the idea I guess.
Finally, the main benefit of having a plan is this….. When you are not supposed to be working (according to your beautifully crafted plan), you can switch off properly without feeling even a teeny bit guilty. You can combine revising with getting on with enjoying your life. The two things are not mutually exclusive!! And with luck you will avoid feeling like Stewie in the picture below. If only he had a proper revision plan…..