How to get the best out of Christmas Revision

Like all the best partnerships, Lennon and McCartney, Broad and Anderson, Holly and Phil, Christmas and revision go hand in hand for GCSE and A-Level students.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

For years I have been urging my students to make the most out of the Christmas period to give their best shot at the January mocks and for years they ignored me. But now, the goalposts have changed. With exams cancelled in Wales and Scotland there is a thought that any further disruption to school life in England will see GCSE and A-Level exams either cancelled or pared back. The ,mocks therefore have become the single most important benchmark of a students ability and Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) become really important.  So, for A level students the next two weeks will be a juggle between Christmas celebrations and completing essential revision.  

If you’re a student thinking where do I start? Or parent wondering just how much revision should my child be doing in the holidays?  We have put together a handy guide below looking at how to get the most out your revision during the festive period. I have already asked if you know how to learn, so now is the opportunity to put all that to the test.

Where to start…..

Firstly, the key is balance.  Even if you do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday no doubt you will still associate the festive period with winding down.  Taking time to rest is just as important as taking the time to revise because from January the next 6 months of study will be extremely important and burning out at the start isn’t ideal!

Allocate days off

OK, so the situation has changed and with the five days of rules relaxation over the Christmas break you may have some days off for family and friends, safely of course, so it’s always useful piecing together a revision timetable.

Planning the Revision Timetable

Priority Subjects (1 to 3).

Eng / Maths / Science

Opt 1

Opt2

Opt3

EPQ (6th Form only)

How many hours in a session

How many sessions a day

The days I cannot study

Clubs/Jobs etc.

Odd days

The evening I can’t study/want to rest.

How much revision is enough?

For this part of the process you will need to gather some information so we can create a revision timetable that helps you stay on track right up to the final examinations. Everything you collect helps us so you will need to sit down with your families and look at the next few weeks and months. You may need to ask your teachers for some guidance too.

HOW MANY HOURS SHOULD YOU DO FOR EACH SUBJECT?

You will be surprised how little time there is for each topic you need to cover. It is important that you spend your time on the things that will make the biggest difference for you. Give each of your subjects a score of 1, 2 or 3.

2 = The norm. This subject that matters to you. You could get it but know it needs some quality time spent on it.

1 = I have this in the bag it is so easy I don’t need to revise or I have no hope and it is not worth going for it.

3 = I need this badly for my next stage. It is one I am banking on and want to spend extra time getting it right.

WHAT DAYS WILL YOU NOT BE ABLE TO STUDY?

You may have family occasions to attend, social events or other things that stop you working some days. Find these out and make a list of them so we can plan your work around them. Be thorough and remember things like birthdays, football matches, clubs you attend or training sessions. You may also have a job that stops you working sometimes.

HOW LONG CAN YOU REVISE FOR?

Most students work for something like 90 minutes or two hours. Any longer doesn’t work and less doesn’t help much either. How long would a sessions be for you, and how many of them would you do in a day; two, three or four?

WHAT TIME OFF WOULD YOU LIKE?

Give yourself an evening per week that is not given over to revision and a spell of time over the weekend that is for relaxing. Do not be too soft o yourself and have so much free time that the work is not being done. Do not be too ambitious either. You won’t be able to jump from to hours of homework a week to forty.

WHEN ARE YOUR EXAMINATIONS?

As soon as we have it let me know you examination timetable, so we can plan revision to finish in time for the first exam and plan spread the time out properly for the rest.

CONCLUSION

Take this process seriously. It is difficult to pan a revision timetable properly and each one takes up to forty-five minutes to produce. This is a lot of work for the teacher concerned. If you do your bit, and use the timetable you are given, it is worth all the work. We do not want to spend so long on a task if you have not got the right information.  

  • Refreshing the subject matter, for example, read back through your notes/watch a YouTube tutorial or make notes from the textbook.
  • Reproducing the subject matter in a different form, for example creating a mind or model map, creating a summary table or list, re-writing content in your own words on flash cards or recording a series of voice notes.
  • Attempt past paper questions without the support of your notes.  Self-mark the questions and highlight the marks you missed. Check you have these points in your notes.
  • Create your own questions and mark schemes. Put yourself in the examiners shoes this will take time but the process of creating the questions is just as valuable as answering them
  • Ask others to test your knowledge or test yourself under timed conditions.

Always remember, work through the topics you do know at a fast pace and spend more time on the topics you find challenging.  Do not avoid them!

The thought of doing revision over Christmas can cause feelings of dread but by planning ahead to gain the right balance will ensure the holidays are stress free and enjoyable for all.

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