Tips for getting the most out of your revision
- Get the students to plan their revision early. Introduce the topic of revision into your class a few weeks before exams. By planning early, students can prioritise topics by exam date and set goals. For example, suggest they tackle two verb tenses or grammar points and then a week later ask them how things are going? Do they need any help?
- Dedicate a class to creating a revision timetable. Get students to be honest about time constraints, how much time do they really have? Suggest the students set realistic goals. Get them to complete a revision timetable by blocking off time each week for certain topics. Having created their timetable, it is a good idea to print off large poster size copies so they can put it up somewhere and add to the timetable as and when necessary. A timetable really does work, students can see how they are progressing and it motivates them to get down to revision. You can download two examples of revision timetables here. One is a weekly planner and the other is a more general timetable for the whole revision period.
- Revision is about quality over quantity. Research has shown that shorter periods of revision (between 30-45 minutes) work better than hours and hours spent on the same topic. This is because concentration levels are higher. Have students break down their revision timetables into lists or a chart. Get them to look at their revision timetable and plan a day’s revision. A day could look like something like this:
REVISION PLAN TODAY ___________ 2014
9.00 – 9.40 revision
9.45 – 10.30 revision
10.35 – 11.10 revision
11.30 – 12.15 revision
12.25 – 13.15 revision
14.15 – 15.00 revision
15.10 – 15.50 revision
15.55 – 16.30 revision
16.35 – 17.00 revision Meet friends out, go to a café, go to the park or cinema.
- Finally, get students to think about areas they need to improve on. Get the students to write down two areas of the course they feel most worried about. Hand out slips of paper (like the one below) and decide what you need to look at as a class. By pinpointing areas to improve, students can spend more revision time on them. Looking at past papers can also help students focus on weaker areas by getting them used to the format and style of questions.
The following techniques look at different ways to revise and get the most out of your notes rather than just reading and re-writing them.
- Summarising notes under main headings. Get students to organise their notes and underline key concepts and headings. Then, get students to create headings that have a key point or a question. All the bullet points for that heading will refer to that one heading. Look at the example below:
Modalsa. Giving and refusing permission – can and can’t + verbsYou can’t park here. Can you eat in the museum?
b. Obligation and lack of obligation –have to/don’t have to or must/mustn’t + verbsYou mustn’t talk in the library / You have to go to school
- Get students to organise notes and then colour-code each topic. This can help memorise and compartmentalise things. Students can also write out notes by gradually reducing the content down. The aim is to reduce each topic onto one index card. One final technique is to reduce down content to key words and write them on post-it notes. Students can then stick the post-its in visible places at home as a memory aid.
- Spider diagrams are also a useful way of consolidating all the material onto one page. At the end of a unit, have the students draw a spider diagram with all the key points from the unit. The centre of the diagram will be simply titled: Unit 1.
- A Venn diagram is a good way to revise. You may wish to ask them to compare the use of tenses, for example, the past simple and the present perfect. The middle circle might relate to the two tenses (eg both talk about the past) but the left and the right circles show the difference (the past simple talks about actions in the past – Last year, I went to Italy / the present perfect talks about actions that start in the past and are still happening at present – I’ve known Sandra for three years). Download a Venn diagram template here.