Top Ten Exam Revision Tips
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: A-Level and IB are tough. But despair is misplaced because if you follow these 10 tips, you’ll get the exam results you need to get into the degree program of your choice.
Yes, it’s almost summer and yes, there are more exciting things to do than study, but A-Level and IB exams are important. Many degree programs, such as medicine, psychology, or law, unfortunately still have an NC (numerus clausus), which is an admission restriction that sorts out prospective students based on their final grades.
It is also important to note that in A-Level and IB not only the grades of the final exams count but also the complete 3 years before. With these 10 tips, you will manage to keep cool and master the exams as well as possible.
1. Allow plenty of time
Start studying as early as possible – especially for the subjects you find most difficult. This way you can best prepare your brain through constant repetition and practice.
Organization and order are true miracle cures that help you keep track and not get lost in the flood of learning material. There are several ways to keep up to date, tools can be for example a weekly or monthly planner, calendar on the smartphone, timer, Post-It notes, or similar.
You can create a kind of curriculum for yourself, in which you plan what you want to focus on each week. To do this, you can write down learning goals and check them off each time they are achieved. Breaking down the learning material into small parts makes the whole thing look a lot less and therefore doable. Also, checking things off as you learn them will motivate you as you see the progress you are making.
Don’t forget to be realistic though – don’t cram everything in a single day, it’s exhausting and doesn’t do you any good in the end.
Read here for more exam preparation tips.
3. Look for a module description
For every single subject, there are specifications that contain everything you need to know, including the breakdown of exams and the weighting of each assignment.
This document can be a great help as the emphasis is clearly set and you know what to look out for. Just ask a teacher or in the secretary’s office.
4. Understanding exam objectives
It is important to understand both the individual tasks and the big exam objectives. This makes it easier to contextualize more complex tasks and transfer skills.
Often different questions are designed to test different skills, so if you recognize the question type, you’re more likely to be able to give the examiners exactly what they want.
5. Take breaks from learning
Research has shown that we learn better when we learn in small bites over a period of time, rather than cramming as much as we can into one long session.
The Pomodoro Technique may sound like some kind of pasta sauce (it is), but it’s also a very practical review technique that can help you learn better. Invented by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique divides work into 25-minute sessions followed by a short break.
Whether you follow this technique or choose your own study/break schedule, the key is to take regular breaks. Go for a walk, meditate, check out what’s happening on social media – whatever relaxes you and clears your mind for further learning.
If we don’t give our bodies an undisturbed night’s rest, it limits our ability to perform tremendously. So cramming through a night before an exam does more harm than good…
Read here about the do’s and don’ts the night before the exam.
6. Ask for mock exams or old exam sheets
Often teachers still have old exam sheets from previous grades on the respective topic lying around, this can help a lot for practice, as you can see there what the question and task style of the respective teacher is and best tune in to it.
7. Don't allow distractions or enticements
Smartphone, tablet, TV – In short, our home is full of distractions and enticements, things that would be more fun than learning right now. Leaving your phone out of reach can be really hard, maybe even impossible, when you need to check things on the internet for the topic.
Remedy can be such things as the focus mode on some devices, they are pre-installed, but also available via app. There you can select apps, such as the internet browser, a dictionary, calculator, or whatever you need at the time for that learning session, that will remain enabled while all other apps and distractions are disabled. And to disable focus mode, you have to go through a few steps and wait a bit, which is an effort that most of the time is not justified by any distraction.
8. Nutrition is important
A well-known saying goes, “You are what you eat,” if you eat an unbalanced diet, you may experience deficiencies that affect brain performance. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to a balanced diet.
First of all, it is essential to emphasize that there is no one superfood that comes flying in and solves all problems, it is the balance that matters. There are some tools to help with this.
For example, it can be difficult to get the important omega-3 fatty acids in everyday life, especially for people who don’t exactly live by the sea, because they are found in algae, seafood, and fish. This can be remedied with the help of supplements, there are omega-3 capsules either from fish or algae in most drug stores.
Read here for other supplements that can help you learn.
Whole-grain foods like whole-wheat pasta and cereal also help boost short-term memory as they are full of B vitamins. Other foods that can have a positive impact on brain power are rice, nuts, flaxseeds, bananas, and many more.
And speaking of food and drink: Energy drinks may give you a boost…. but the effects don’t last long – you’ll soon find yourself down to earth. Water is clearly a better choice.
9. Make notes more visually appealing
Our brains and eyes get tired very quickly when reading black on white, as they generally do with monotonous tasks. You can remedy this by embellishing your notes and study materials in a visual way, even if you’re not the next Picasso.
Another option is to learn the material through YouTube videos. For History, for example, there are history channels, languages such as English, French or German can be learned more easily by listening and watching, and natural Science such as Physics, Biology, and Chemistry, as well as Mathematics, can be explained quite vividly using a wide variety of techniques.
Most YouTubers are also somewhat younger than most teachers, which is why it is easier for many students to identify with them and learn from them.
10. Listening to music without lyrics
Music is a daily companion for many. Among other things, it can calm us down, motivate us, build us up, and make us reminisce. It’s clear that you don’t want to miss out on this superpower when learning, but often when your favorite songs are playing, you catch yourself singing along once too often rather than focusing on learning.
To avoid this, but still be able to listen to music it is advisable to resort to music without lyrics. You can either choose instrumental versions of your favorite songs, meditation music, classical music, or whatever you feel like.
The insider tip of our students is Lo-Fi Hip Hop.
Of course, our tutors from Good Tutors Finder can provide you with additional support. They are familiar with various tips and tricks that will get you through any degree, for example, IB Diploma, IGCSE, AP, and the Gymi curriculum. You can find us online or directly at your home in Switzerland, including Zurich, Basel, Bern, Zug, Geneva, Lausanne, and all the other cities.
Find out more and book your tutor today.