Optimal revision – It’s about balance

The time for getting very serious about exam revision for both the forthcoming GCSE and A Level exams is upon us. In households across the land, the mood has probably taken on a slightly darker quality as reality bites and the pressure builds. This leads me on to suggest something that may be a little unexpected. For optimal revision, it’s about balance.

Those of us with children almost certainly remember the advert that talked about work, rest and play. You’re also likely to be familiar with the phrase, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

That’s exactly the point I’d like to make in this blog article. To avoid tension overload and pre-exam burn out, we must ensure our teens are focusing on quality and not quantity.

There’s a tendency to try to take on board revision tips from multiple sources which increases confusion and largely serves to simply waste valuable time.

In truth, there’s only so much one can take in and very few of us can concentrate intently for hours on end. That’s one of the reasons why I advocate structured revision sessions with minimal distractions.

Giving the appropriate level of focus to a structured and focused revision session is likely to prove far more rewarding that spending all day simply trying to consume vast quantities of information.

And when done with the session, go and do something else for a while! Rest the brain, exercise the body, get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Or simply listen to music, watch a movie or hang out with friends (not the ones who are going to stress you out about exams!).

Getting together with a similarly motivated study buddy can also be a great idea to maximise revision results as each can test the other to check progress.

Once revision is well underway, one of the best ways to spend vital time before exams start is tackling past papers. This exercise will give a good feel as to actual progress and highlight where there are gaps in learning to be addressed.

Most importantly, don’t lose perspective and allow exams to rule the next several months! The family can make a very positive contribution by doing something seemingly counterintuitive, and that’s being a much-needed distraction. At the end of the allotted study time, a meal out or a family movie night can be just what’s needed to bring our revision-weary teens back to reality for a while.

Let’s not pretend that this isn’t a stressful time for all. However, none of it is life and death, at least it shouldn’t feel that way. Making the best use of time and revising in a structured manner can prevent the worst of the stress. Though some pre-exam nerves are completely normal!

If you’re stuck for what structure revision should look like, you can view (also free to download) my revision tips document here.

If revision in your household is going off the rails, this revision tips guide should help. As always, I’m on the end of the phone or can be contacted via email to offer advice where needed.