Revision and exam preparation in the run up to external exams.
Here is some excellent advice from Mr Morris, Head of Wellbeing:
We are in the midst of a busy, exciting and challenging period as you prepare to complete your courses. It is important that you look after yourselves and each other (even more so than usual).
You have 3 main weapons in your arsenal to stay well so that you can do well in your exams: Physical, Psychological and Social. I have explained them below. Do as many or as few as you like: whatever works. Above all: keep a sense of perspective, look after yourself and each other and have a strong sense of belief in what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
Listen to Yoda: http://tv.wellingtoncollege.org.uk/View.aspx?ID=817~3D~mOKECk “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
You need 8 hours of sleep per night. Avoid working past 10pm. Avoid checking emails or watching screens after 10pm. Avoid consuming caffeine after 8pm. If you have trouble sleeping, practise deep-breathing and relaxation techniques, such as breathing in for 7 and out for 11. There are apps available e.g. https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app
Mindfulness and stillness.
In order to be creative and think better, the brain needs to be relaxed and calm. Mindfulness helps to achieve this. It also helps you to remain calm and focused in stressful situations. Feel your feet and draw your attention to the sensation of breathing and gently bring your attention back to it if your mind wanders. Try counting your breath in cycles of 10. 10 minutes of mindful breathing before revision can have a dramatic effect on how well you learn. Look up the headspace app: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app
Get a good 40 minutes of exercise every other day. Get outside every day and have an hour of broad daylight. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Go for a swim. Play touch or football or a game of rounders. Movement is connected to learning and exercise and it will help you to learn. Exercise also makes you feel good and undoes feelings of anxiety.
Bad diet affects mood and it affects your energy levels. Eat healthily. Eat 3 meals per day. Avoid missing breakfast. Get 5 portions or more of fresh fruit and veg every day. Avoid heavy, fatty, sugary junk food. Get a mixture of slow and quick release carbs to balance your energy levels over the day, especially on exam days. Avoid too much caffeine. Avoid alcohol.
- Think about thinking.
Notice your ‘self-talk’: what you say to yourself as you prepare for and go into exams. Challenge any thoughts that are unhelpful such as ‘I’m going to fail’ or ‘I don’t understand this’. Develop self-talk that is encouraging and on your side. Be kind to yourself in your own head. Think about finding solutions to the challenges you face and reach out for help.
Remember that your understanding/intelligence can be changed by better practice and successful learning. Remain optimistic and challenge any handicapping thoughts as they come in. Listen to Yoda: http://tv.wellingtoncollege.org.uk/View.aspx?ID=817~3D~mOKECk
- 45 minutes.
Avoid working for more than 45 minutes in any one hour, unless you get into a flow state (point 8). Break work up with something to relax the mind. Move: go for a walk. Practice scales on an instrument. Do some yoga. Yo-yo. Skateboard. Watch something funny on Youtube.
- Vary and Build.
Start simple and get more complicated with work. If you begin with things you can achieve, this builds your confidence. Exam success depends in part on your confidence. Make a list of topics you are going to revise and tick them off when complete: this boosts confidence too. If you get frustrated with something, leave it. Do something else and go back to it later.
Break up your revision. Don’t spend too long on one subject. If you’re feeling bored, up the challenge: if you’re feeling anxious, get advice on solutions.
Do something every day that you can lose yourself in: flow is where your ability and the challenge are perfectly matched, when you lose track of time. This might be revision. If you are in a state of flow when working, don’t stop. Flow might be practising a musical instrument. It might be reading a good book. It might be chatting with a friend. It might be playing with a yo-yo.
Ask other people for help and give help to other people. One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else. Work in small revision groups. Test each other. Correct each other. Help each other. The only competition is between you and the exam. You are not competing with your friends. Respect each other’s right to work.
See your friends. Encourage each other. Motivate each other. Talk to them about what you are doing and talk to them about things that have nothing to do with exams. Share in successes. Commiserate in defeat. Have a laugh.
May the force be with you.
Additional articles and support
As we get into exam season here is a blog from Nicola Morgan full of sound advice for all students taking exams.
April 2016: Here is a Guardian article on The science of revision: nine ways pupils can revise for exams more effectively
Here’s some great revision advice from A* students taken from “The Student Room” 57 study, learning and revision habits of A-star students
EPQ Research – A Gateway to resources listed by Academic subject
Here’s a really useful Guide to researching the EPQ from Southampton University. Although some of the information applies to the stock of the University Library it has useful advice on how to research and numerous useful weblinks and other sources.
Learning tool for all ages – have you tried Quizlet You can create quizzes to test your learning. Create a test for your weekly Latin or language vocabulary or use other people’s quizzes to test your general or subject knowledge. Just access the Quizlet website, create an account and start learning.
Memrise is a similar website.
Study Skills and revision advice for 6th formers:
University of Sussex Study Skills – This is an excellent website from the University of Sussex. Designed for University students it contains really useful advice for 6th formers.
It is clearly laid out with many useful sections covering:
- Getting organised – note taking and time management
- Reading and Research – including using the Internet and critical thinking
- Assessments – Essays, Reports, Dissertations, Presentations
- Writing well
- Numeracy skills
- Revision and Exams
University of Southampton Academic Skills This website has some incredibly informative and useful in depth guides to study skills.
Start here for advice on how to research a topic and how to reference the sources you used correctly. Referencing & Research policy at Wellington
Don’t forget to use the library catalogue to see what books are available. The catalogue also includes recommended, reliable websites on a vast range of subjects.
Extended Essay – guide to useful resources in the e-library
Using sources : A Guide for Students – Find it Check it Credit it (offqual)
6th Form Research Sources:
For IA, EE and EPQ’s start with the electronic resources on the e-library. For very specific or more obscure topics try the suggestions below.
Google Scholar – A great starting point for scholarly research. Some articles/papers are freely available on the web others may need to be requested from the British or London Library. Ask the Librarians for these.
30 free key websites Roddy Macleod’s website lists 30 places to find new scholarly research papers.
Journal Table of Contents This website lists the tables of contents from latest issues of journals.
Subject Portals Pinakes is a website hosted by Heriot Watt University. It provides a “Subject Launchpad”. Portals bring the best websites and collections of documents together in one place. Particularly useful and famous ones are:
- Bized (for Business Studies and Economics)
- Sci Central Gateway to the best Science News sources
- Sapling Architecture, Planning and Landscape information gateway.
- Physics World – News, views and information for the global physics community from the Institute of Physics
- Philosophy around the Web Don’t be put off by the amateurish look of this website.The main purpose of this site is to act as a guide and a gateway to philosophy resources on the Internet.
- PubMed Central PMC is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).