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Revision Strategies

What revision help will Turves Green Boys’ School provide for my son?

Students at Turves Green Boys’ School will have exams throughout their time at school so it doesn’t seem so nerve-racking when it comes to their GCSEs. Before their exams, boys will be issues with revision guides and a checklist so that they know what they need to learn for their exam.

Throughout their time in school, in PSHE lessons and in short form time sessions, boys will also be taught different exam techniques, the science behind how their memory works, memory exercises and how to plan their revision effectively. We also provide sessions on how to manage exam stress and anxiety and when to ask for help.

Helping your son with revision.

Exams are undoubtedly nerve-racking for children and their parents. Fraught mums and dads watch over their children during the holidays or 'study leave' and wonder to what degree they should be helping. So, with that in mind, here are our top ten tips on how to help children to revise effectively.

  1. Encourage your child to make a revision timetable – and stick to it.
  2. Make sure your child has a quiet space to work, with no distractions.
  3. Help to find the method of learning and retaining information that works best for them. It could be reading and making notes, using flash cards or Post-it notes, looking at video clips, playing back recordings of their own voice, mind mapping or perhaps a mixture of these. We outline some of the most effective strategies below.
  4. Check the exam specifications. All exam boards publish these, along with practice papers and mark schemes too. All of these can also be found on our online curriculum (VLE) in the Year 11 folder.
  5. Search out revision apps and online resources – such as BBC Bitesize and Gojimo – to clarify areas your child feels less confident about. Teenagers sometimes concentrate on their best subjects and leave their weaker ones till the end but it is a good idea to tackle weak areas early on.
  6. Be around as much as possible. You don’t have to be at their side 24/7 but children like parents taking an interest in their revision (but not taking over).
  7. Keep the kitchen cupboard stocked with delicious food. When the going gets tough children really appreciate a cup of tea, a plate of biscuits or their favourite meal.
  8. Encourage them to break revision into manageable chunks and to take regular breaks in between revision sessions. It’s far more effective to do 20 minutes of successful revision – rather than plough on for hours on end and not get anywhere. This is backed up by research by academics at the University of Sheffield who found that learning is more effective when spread out over stretches of time.
  9. Exercise, fresh air, healthy food and lots of sleep are crucial.
  10. Most important of all, help your child to keep everything in perspective. Remind them that the better they prepare and the more confident they feel in their subject knowledge the less stressed they will feel when the exams start. But by the end of June the exams will be over and it will be the start of the long summer holidays.

For more advice on how to help your son through his exams: https://www.parentguidetogcse.com/

 

Different Learning Styles

Learning Styles:

For a person to learn effectively, it is important to understand how we learn. In general, there are 3 learning styles:

1. Visual – learning by seeing: reading, making notes, spider diagrams, watching a film/documentary, pictures, graphs, reading past papers, questions and answers.

2. Auditory – learning by listening: having something explained, listening to a recording, talking about the work, being asked questions and talking the answer through.

3. Kinesthetic & tactile – learning by doing: making revision cards with words and pictures, use of revision games, making spider diagrams, making a game from past paper questions and answers.

Most people learn in more than one way. The following will help you identify your child’s learning style: This chart helps you determine learning style; read the word in the left column and then answer the questions in the successive three columns to see how you respond to each situation. Your answers may fall into all three columns, but one column will likely contain the most answers. The dominant column indicates your sons’ primary learning style. Look at the chart to help you here.

Helping your son plan his revision.

Adapt is a FREE app which provides your son with a personalised, exam specific timetable, where you can input the days and times you can, or can’t study. You can select weekdays, weekends, everyday, or even set custom days that you revise on! And, it is all added on to a calendar that you can customise. https://getadapt.co.uk/

How to use Past Exam Papers

Our VLE Online Curriculum contains folders with all of the past papers and mark schemes for each of your sons’ subjects.

For tips on how to use the past papers, follow this link to the BBC Bitesize website. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zx6nrwx.

Different revision techniques to try at home.

Instead of the usual reading, highlighting and recalling, research has suggested that there are much better (and more interesting) ways to revise. All students will be taught these methods during their time in school, but they often need encouragement to have the confidence to try them out at home.

Flashcards

We can supply some flashcards in school, but they can also be purchased cheaply at Home Bargains or Poundland. Alternatively, card sheets cut to size in different colours are also good to use. Flashcards are a very familiar tool used by students. Crucially, however, too many students fail to use them for effective self-testing – (only 30% in recent research). At school, we will train students to design, or find, effective revision flashcards, before then training them in their use. Students should also beware dropping flashcards they think they know. Flashcards also work well with the Leitner Box Method (see overleaf).

 

How To Use Revision Flashcards

Images: Draw a picture on the blank side of each card. The human brain is excellent at recalling pictures, but can struggle with recalling words; pairing the two helps.

Colour: Make clever use of colour: Studies have found that you’re more likely to remember notes that are written in blue, rather than black ink.

Underline important topics in bright colours. Highlight key phrases. Split different subjects or topics between the different colours of revision card.

Double up: Create multiple, different flashcards for difficult-to-remember topics. You will be far more likely to remember things if you create two types of card for each topic: Cards with a single word and no context, e.g. “Dog”. This will test your recall. Cards that describe the subject or object, e.g. “What wags its tail and chases cats?”. This will test your comprehension.

Spaced Repitition: The Leitner Method.

The Leitner system is a widely used method of efficiently using flashcards that was proposed by the German science journalist Sebastian Leitner in the 1970s. It is a simple implementation of the principle of spaced repetition, where cards are reviewed at increasing intervals. This technique stops that tendency that most students have to stay in their comfort zones and just look at the flashcards they’re already confident about, whilst neglecting their weaknesses.

How To Use the Leitner box technique.

You need an index card box  and you either need to create dividers for the four sections of the box or you need four separate boxes (failing that, I guess you could use ‘piles’).

 

Section 1

In the first section, you put things for frequent practice. This is the stuff you’re not remembering well. About 40% of your time should be spent on this stuff.

Section 2

In the second section you put the cards you’ve just moved out of section 1. This is things you’re gaining confidence with but still occasionally trips you up or confuses you in some way. Spend about 30% of your time in this section.

Section 3

In the third section, keep the things that you nearly always recall correctly. Spend 20% of your time here. Just remember, if you get anything wrong here you need to move it back to section 2.

Section 4

Finally, in section 4 you have material that you think is easy and you always get right. Only spend 10% of your time on this stuff. The key thing is that nothing ever leaves this box because you know it so well. No matter how confident you are, check back on it every now and then to test your memory and build your confidence in what you know.

Making Notes

Students often ‘make notes’ but this can often end up as a meaningless column of jargon. The Cornell strategy utilises the ‘generation effect‘. Named after the US university, this strategy gets students thinking metacognitively, asking questions, noting key terms, and summarising the content being revised.

 

SECTION 1

Students take notes in the largest section of the page. While watching a video or reading a paragraph they need to take notes only in the right-hand section of the page.

SECTION 2

AFTER STUDENTS HAVE FINISHED WITH READING/WATCHING. Students write potential questions in the left column. Working from your notes on the right, think about questions that might appear on an exam, and write these on the left. Later on, these can be used as a study tool.

For example, if in the right hand section, you have written the note "1703--Peter founds St. Pete & builds Peter & Paul Fort," then in the left hand section, you could write the question "Why was Peter & Paul fortress 1st building in St. Pete?“ You can write higher level questions that are not answered in the notes, like "Why did...?," or "Predict what would happen if...?," or "What were the implications of...?" (e.g., "What impact did the change in capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg have on the Russian Empire?). These can deepen your learning of the material.

SECTION 3

Students then summarise the main ideas in the bottom section of the page. This helps to clarify all of the information they have recorded. Putting the gist of the material in their own words is a good way to check comprehension. If they can summarise the page of notes, it means they are well on their way to understanding the material. They need to consider, "How would I explain this information to someone else?"

 

If you feel that your son is becoming overly stressed with his revision, please let us know and this is something we can tackle together.