How to Pick Yourself Up after the Mocks

An article by Bonny and Emilia.

In February, we mark the end of the dreaded mock examinations and welcome results with open arms. To some, it is a wake-up call that their revision wasn’t as fool-proof as they’d thought, while for others it is a positive reinforcement that they’re on the right track. Whether you’re sitting an IGCSE or A Level at the end of this academic year, there are chances to improve these coming months regardless of the grade you got in your subject(s). This month’s student edition was thought out to help students reach their fullest potential collectively using pointers provided by the entire BSB community.

First of all, let’s address the biggest problem faced by almost every student - procrastination. Last year, on way too many occasions, I would toss aside my studies in favour of three episodes of Gossip Girl. Exams seemed to be part of a distant future that I was not too concerned about. This really hit me hard halfway through my study break when I realised I was barely familiar with half of the IGCSE Biology content, amongst many other subjects. This led to an hour of panicking and yes, even contemplating if I should repeat Year 11. So, what did I do after this epiphany?

Time Management

Who hasn’t been traumatized by the daunting idea of formulating a schedule that will reinforce organisation, productivity and encourage exam success? It’s quite a tall order from a piece of paper if you’re asked to write it up in a form period or PSHCE lesson, and many don’t know if they’ll even be able to stick to it. To be completely honest, 95% of the time, they’ll probably abandon it in a couple of days and resume to feeling directionless and unmotivated.

There isn’t much to a timetable you haven’t heard of before. As with everything, the key is to start as early as you can, taking January off, and once February half term comes around, begin revising lightly. While some people can cram effectively, most people can’t for various reasons - which stops them performing at their best. Please believe me when I say revision doesn’t even have to be strenuous, as personally, until the April holiday, I’d rarely go over 45 minutes per subject a day.

To better illustrate how I worked for my IGCSEs, I’ve taken the liberty of using my current revision timetable as an example of how I’ve been revising for the last few years.

1. Establish a rough date for your exams

2. Divide all the topics and areas you need to cover according to the time you have

Let’s say there are 75 days until an exam and the Chemistry syllabus has 14 chapters. I would revise a new topic every 2-3 days from a revision guide, giving myself two rounds of revision for the entire syllabus and almost three weeks of exam question practice at the end (more on that later).

Sounds difficult to achieve, and as most of you would agree, the hardest part is starting your first assignment or revision session of the day. However, I usually tell myself five or ten minutes will suffice. You’ll find that after the five or ten minutes have elapsed, you’ve already got into a particular mindset where you want to continue for at least another half an hour more!


Methods to Revise

Now a revision timetable has been written up, what goes on in the actual revision? If you haven’t yet found your method of studying - don’t panic! Perhaps some subjects are less straightforward in terms of the choices you have for your revision, that doesn’t mean you cannot revise for them (particularly aimed at those that say you cannot revise for DT or Drama). Once again, I’ve compiled a list of subjective methods for each subject category to present one way to go about studying these upcoming months.

English Literature/Language: Mind maps (or equivalent), flashcards, rereading novel and/or poems, and reading, listening or watching around the novel/poem for relevant context.

Maths: Practice, practice, practice topical exam questions!

Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics): Mind maps (or equivalent), flashcards, topical exam questions.

Humanities:

  • Geography: Fully comprehensive notes, learn precise case study details and content, mind maps (or equivalent), flashcards, podcasts,
  • History: Make notes based on the questions provided in the syllabus. If you are unable to go into detail as you would like, ask your teachers for extra reading resources. Plan out answering essay questions and listen to Mr. Allsop’s podcasts!

Languages: Podcasts, short novels and films, flashcards (for vocabulary) and group work for practice in natural dialogue. I would also recommend having a precise idea of questions that could come up in the oral examination that you have prepared answers to.

Business Studies: Mind maps (or equivalent), flashcards, reading of the business news for context, revision guide and topical exam questions.

Design Technology: Make notes comprehensive, use topical quizzes from Mr. Greenslade to help you!

Art: This one is a little bit trickier. There’s no written exam, so be consistent working on your portfolio throughout the year. Then, as soon as your question paper comes around, start working regularly to avoid cramming at the end of the eight-week period before the exam!

Drama: Repeat lines over and over again in places where time may not be used efficiently, e.g. in the kitchen or the shower; make a cheat sheet including quotes, themes, and context for the play you are studying. Practice in the mirror or record yourself.

Music: The Google Drive provided by Ms. Clark is abundant in resources, textbook exam questions, playing the set works on repeat to know them off by heart!

Lastly, depending on the teacher, while some may be more willing than others to give up their free time, it is in their best interests for you to do well! Do not hesitate to ask your teachers for extra help, whether it is staying back in school to go over a topic you are unsure about or emailing them a few questions. In our experience, the teachers have always been eager to help out and these encounters have been highly beneficial to exam success.

Useful Revision Websites

SaveMyExams is a website some claim actually saved their exams. The website provides notes and past papers for various subjects. There are also topical papers available for a small subscription but ask around, some may be willing to lend you theirs.

PhysicsandMathsTutor has past papers for a variety of subjects, and not just Physics and Maths.

A good number of Year 11 students from last year would rely on these notes. We recommend that you refer to them while making your own notes.

Particularly for topical exams questions for Science and Mathematics for IGCSEs.

For all your CIE GCSE and A Level past paper desires!

Useful Revision Apps

  1. StudyBreak
  2. Exam Countdown
  3. Forest App: Stay Focused
  4. Quizlet/Memrise

January 2020