With exam season approaching, Reigate College invited former students to send in their top revision tips. Here’s what they came back with:
Aliss Copsey (2015 – 2017; Media, Law, Psychology; second-year American Studies student at the University of Sussex):
- Past papers. I completed multiple past papers under exam conditions in preparation for my exams. There are companies that offer free printing and delivery.
- Get family members or friends to test you. It can be difficult to test yourself so I found it very helpful to get others to test me.
- Talk about what you’re revising and what your exams are on (without having notes to hand). I found it helpful to discuss what I had been revising with my family to see how much I could remember without looking at notes. I often did this on dog walks with my family, which meant I got some fresh air and had a break from studying at my desk.
Laura Maton (2016 – 2018; English Literature, Philosophy, History; first-year BA in English Literature at the University of Surrey):
- Do what works for you. There are online tests that can tell you whether you are a visual, auditory, or tactile learner.
- Be organised. Break revision down into manageable chunks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Remember why you’re doing it. Make a list of long-term goals – university place, dream job etc. – to motivate you to put in the hard work.
- Prioritise your mental health. No matter how many people tell you to work harder, the most important thing is that you are doing your best, not anyone else’s best.
Elizabeth Stanger (2007 – 2009; Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Health & Social Care; day-care business in Australia):
- Try your best and never give up – who knows what the next ten years will bring! When I left Reigate College, I had a place at university to study Food Science and Nutrition after taking a Gap Year. I never took up my place, but instead worked as a childminder and gained a BA in Early Years and then travelled to Australia where I eventually settled. Ten years ago I was heading to uni to study a Science degree and now I live in one of the most remote towns in the world!
Hannah Payne (2015 – 2017; Psychology, English Language & Literature, Biology; Psychology Bsc):
- Spaced learning (learning in short, spaced periods over a length of time). Start learning now and do a little every day and it will make a HUGE difference. Cramming isn’t the best way to encode things into long-term memory.
- Teach others. Ask questions, and make your own questions. You’ll know it back to front in no time.
- Take time to yourself and relax. Work hard of course, but make sure you take care of yourself as well.
Nicholas Gill (2016 – 2018; Product Design, PE, Business):
- Use your own initiative. Don’t rely on teachers for everything.
- Maximize resources available.
- Don’t focus on your predicted grades.
Nick Barrow (2016 – 2018; History, Philosophy, Economics; apprenticeship with Thales):
- The eight-hour rule. Spend eight hours sleeping, eight hours doing whatever you like and eight hours revising.
- Make a timetable and stick to it. Check back every so often to look at how much you’ve done.
- Listen to instrumental music while you revise.
- Put your revision into different mediums. Record yourself as if you are doing a lecture, condense your notes, plaster your wall with posters etc.
- Remember it’s never too late to ask questions.
James Goddard (2010 – 2012; Business, Psychology, History, PE; Marketing for a food start up in London):
- Figure out your learning style and concentrate on that. I figured out that I memorized content best by writing it out on paper.
- Practise exam technique and go to the extra classes on offer.
- Work out what the examiner wants to see and produce that in the exam.
Lara Kirkland (2015 – 2017; Classical Civilisation, History, English Literature, Theatre Studies; Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool):
- Do not leave revision to the last minute.
- Mix it up! It helps to do a couple hours on one subject then have a break and do another subject so you don’t get bored.
- Give it some colour! As a visual learner I find it stimulating to write my notes in different colours.
Marcus Kyriakides (2015 – 2017; Biology, Chemistry, Maths; Medicine at St George’s, University of London:
- Make a revision plan and stick to it.
- Read everything. Go through all your textbooks thoroughly.
- Practise practise practise. Do all the past papers and questions you can.
Sandro Pietrunti (2015 – 2017; Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine at King’s):
- Take time regularly to go over your revision notes. After you have written up notes for a subject, allocate a particular day or two of the week where you will simply look over the notes you have written. Do this every week so that the material never leaves your memory after you have learnt it the first time. Prioritise reviewing the notes you found difficult to understand.
- In exams, put a dot next to any questions you are unsure of. That way, when you review your answers at the end of the exam, you will be able to prioritise the questions you struggled with.
- Do not be put off before the exam listening to what other people are saying. Everyone will have learnt different parts of the material in different detail, and people are going to talk about what they know most about.
Lizzie Whittall (2016 – 2018; English Literature, Product Design and Business; BA Product Design at Middlesex University)
- Make sure you still have time for yourself.
- Work as a group. Group work is a great way to study and I found being at College was more helpful as there are less distractions than at home.
- Remind yourself the harder you work now the more you’ll be able to enjoy your summer later.
Elizabeth Sorrell (2016 – 2018; English Literature, Spanish, Sociology; English Literature and Spanish at the University of Southampton):
- What works for your friends might not work for you. Your friend might be able to study just by reading and taking notes, whereas you might need to do something different – your revision is yours only.
- Memorising definitions will only take you so far. Make sure you consolidate your understanding of what words and concepts really entail and why they are relevant to your subjects.
- Past papers are really helpful.
- All-nighters do not work and they never will, even if you really want them to!
Natalie Rockall (2016 – 2018; Business, Psychology, Economics, Media Studies)
- Base your revision on the Exam Boards specifications. Start working through them as soon as possible, and focus on topics you don’t understand rather than the ones you do
- Work smart. Figure out which way you learn best, whether it’s through mind maps, teaching someone else, or writing out flash cards.
- Remember to eat breakfast. You need to make sure your brain can function properly in exams.
As has been said by many of our Alumni, not everything will work for everyone but we hope students with exams coming up will find this helpful. Maybe try something new over the Easter holidays.