In my bid to blog more, I’ve started thinking about the key questions I get asked. As a maths tutor I get many questions from parents (and students) and one thing that always comes up around this time of the year is revision. Parents are starting to realise their son or daughter sits their GCSE exam soon and they want them to do more revision! The students realise they don’t have long either and realise they too need to start revising!
The question many of them face is where to start.
For this reason, a revision timetable is one of the best things you can do, but many people might not know how. How do I create one, how do I use it and what’s the point? This blog will explain all three factors and hopefully give you some ideas on how to start!
So – let’s start backwards; what’s the point? This is probably the most important issue to address. First and foremost, they keep you on schedule. It creates structure by planning when you’ll revise, it provides a clear list of topics to work on (removing potential procrastination due to indecision) and planned time to tackle areas of weaknesses. If shared and used properly, you are accountable (to both yourself and maybe others) for the work and are in countdown mode towards the exam (and if anything like some people I know, you realise how little time you have!). By having a revision timetable you know WHAT to revise, and WHEN to revise – rather than just reading a textbook on the fly and hoping for the best.
So now we’ve tackled why you’d have one, let’s look at how to create one. There are many ways here and what I would say is that like most things in life, there are multiple ways of doing it – find something that works for you. The main similarities between all of them is working out WHEN you’ll revise (for example 4 evenings a week between 6 and 8pm) and working out WHAT topics you need to cover.
I personally find a diary or calendar most helpful and I print off an A4 calendar (one page per month) and then stick all of them up on the wall so I can visually see it. There are lots of apps to help if you prefer to use technology and apps include ‘My Study Life’, ‘SQA My Study Plan’ and ‘Timetable’ – although I’ve never used any of them so can’t comment on them.
First mark out when your exams are – and in particular the dates of them. This is key information! If you don’t know when your exams are, FIND OUT! Ask your teacher, ask your parent or google the exam date (just make sure you’ve googled the right exam)! Then you can work backwards to see how much time you have before the exams. Once you know that (for example 6 months), you can block out the time you plan to study (for example 4-8pm in the evenings. Then once you’ve done this, divide the time you’ll stufy between the different subjects you have to cover and work out what you’ll cover and when. Depending on how much detail you want to go into, you can write a high level overview of what you’ll cover, the subject itself or the particular topic. I found it helpful to block out time and then put a generic topic against it (for example ‘Maths – Trigonometry’) which gave me a bit of freedom to decided which part of trigonometry I’d cover, however you can be as specific as you want –some people mark out time to go through a particular problem or question. Use mock results, classwork and your own intuition to recognise what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. Spend longer on the bits you can’t do – rather than the bits you can do!
Schedule regular study breaks and be realistic. No-one can study from 4pm-11pm every evening with no break, so don’t expect to! Don’t schedule study time when you know you’re supposed to be at work or have a birthday party to go to – plan your time around this.
Now once you’ve got one, how do you use it? The key thing here – FOLLOW IT! Once it’s created, it is a case of sticking to it, and following it. Of course, things don’t always work out exactly to plan so the most important thing is to review it at the beginning of each week; check you are on schedule from last week, adjust if necessary and keep going. There will always be little things that pop up and disrupt your plans or studying, so be prepared to be a little flexible. If you’d plan to do 3 hours of revision on a Sunday and only did 2 hours, that’s ok! Simply add this hour into your schedule for the following week.
Finally – when you are actually doing revision, make sure it’s ACTIVE revision. If you study maths (or other similar subjects) you will not ace your exam by reading textbook after textbook. The way to excel is to DO questions. Work through past exam papers, have a go at answering the questions and write out key formulas. I might even do a future blog post on how to revise …
Anyway, so the key takeaways – create a revision plan and stick to it! I’ll keep you on task, you’ll be able to plan your time and have a better idea of what you need to cover. As the saying goes “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.
Good luck and any questions, get in touch!