With exams looming at school, the air is filled with a heady mix of anxiety and excitement. It is pervading every classroom and corridor. Anxiety about the impending exams and leaving the safety of Year 11 wafts through the building. Excitement about prom, friendships and new ventures in their life ahead echo all around. Teachers go the extra mile, trying their hardest to get the students to where they deserve to be - ready for the exams. Each time we near exam season there is a tangible sense urgency in schools.
Students often act out at this point in their school career. Life becomes a little too difficult. Some are angry that they are not where they thought they would be. Other students begin to panic about the fact that they have not worked as hard as they could have up until this point, and act out because of this. For some, the issues that have always been there from home or outside school become too much to bare on top of school demands. A few have parents that demand the world and they feel themselves crumbling under the pressure. Our job as teachers is to acknowledge these real pressures and try our best to lead them through the quagmire that is Year 11 and get them out the other side in one piece. Job done. No easy feat I can tell you!
In my classroom, I always try to quash the fears and calm the nerves of my students around exam time. The emphasis is very much on me giving them the final push they need to get all they can for the exam, not whipping them up into a panic about what they have not done. They need clear guidance about how and when to revise as well as how to prioritise. If they choose not to take the tips then that is down to them, but most will take on board the advice I give and reap the benefits.
Revision can be a boring and daunting prospect for the most committed of students. We all have different things that help us through periods where we have to work super hard and independently. For some that will be reading over everything they have ever taken notes on, for most it will have to be more innovative that that to keep their interest and help them remember.
So here are some of the tips I have given my students this year to keep their revision fresh. I hope you find them useful.
Create your own revision timetable so that you can divide out your time effectively before the mock exams. You can use the template below or create your own. http://www.risingstars-uk.com/uploads/publications/140.pdf
On Line Revision Guides:
There are so many high quality online revision guides available that we would be silly not to direct our students to the free resources that already exist out there. Get them reading and searching what is on offer online.
Past Exam Papers:
Good old fashioned practice questions never hurt anyone! Take a look at past question papers from the exam boards website. They are available to all for free, so use them. Plan out your answer to the given question and look at the mark scheme (again available free on the site) to check your answer.
There are loads of really useful revision resources avaiable to you on You Tube. Have a go at searching for your topic and revising that way. There is so much out there, you are spoilt for choice! You could even make your own video on a revision topic of your choice and upload it so others can benefit.
Get some A5 cards and create revision cards for every key topic in the exam. Research as you go along. Use your subject text book, revision book, your class book and the internet to help you. Try mixing up using visuals and words to help you summarise the key information. Try sticking them up on your bedroom wall - they are all around you even when you are not purposefully revising.
The very best of us can lose the will to carry on when the pressure is on. Keep yourself motivated when the going gets tough. Get some motivation from the fix up team. Fix up look sharp - get revising! Here is one, but just search them on You tube - www.youtube.com/watch?v=jftL_VxGX18
Revising can be exhausting, make if fun to to keep it fresh. There are loads of subject specific games out there that you can use to help you get those key concepts into your head. Here is an English one but there are loads more out there - search the topic and dive in. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/games/english/
This is essentially an online pin board where people pin up related items they find for you to peruse. Firstly, search the pin boards for your particular exam topic. Secondly, try and have a go at creating your own pin board on a topic you are covering in your exam.
Create an essay plan, a brief one, for every topic you foresee coming up in the exam. To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.
Look at the exam papers you have seen on the web and write a response to every question in the set time you have for the exam. This is great practise for the real thing. You can use the mark scheme to mark yourself, get a friend to mark it or hand it in to your teacher.
A great tool for collecting revision notes, pictures, web links and whatever else you can think of and linking it all up in a Pearltree. Revision entails looking back over the work you have done and information you have gathered. This is a really easy, visual and clear way of gathering it all together. It is essential to your sanity that all the hard work you put in to your revision now is not all forgotten and can be used again in the summer. This is one great way of keeping it organised. You can use it on a computer, Ipad or Iphone. you can even work on Pearltrees together in groups over the web.
Happy revising and all the best for results day.