Finally, half term has arrived: a most welcome interlude from the long dark days of the Spring Term.
Understandably, the temptation may be to firmly close those books, have long lie-ins and days of catching up with the latest films as well as of course friends and family.
But if exams are looming on the horizon then you may also be worried by the thought (or by your parents' reminders!) that you should already be starting to revise.
Whatever exams you are taking in the Summer, you will undoubtedly want to do well. However, you may feel unsure how to begin the somewhat daunting task of revision. This may be the first time you have organised your own study schedule or perhaps you are uncertain how much revision would be best; or indeed, which techniques would be most helpful for recalling lots of pieces of information.
If you are a bit overwhelmed, be reassured, you are not alone. This can be a very common feeling at this point in the year.
The good news is that this half term is the perfect time to begin to get yourself prepared for the impending examinations. Here are my starting steps which may help you on your way to exam success.
Timing Is Everything
The most important thing to do is to make a start. Whilst this half term holiday will be too early to embark on intense revision, waiting until the Easter break to begin at all may be too late. Get yourself into a forward-thinking frame of mind. Be proactive in setting up and keeping to your study schedule.
Gather together some simple resources which will help you get prepared to study. These could include different coloured highlighters to identify key information, A3 paper for mind-mapping of topics, post-its to write to-do reminders and index card boxes. A dictaphone may also be helpful for recording and playing back small pieces of information such as languages' vocabulary before you fall asleep.
Check Your Learning
Mock up a simple grid to enable you to audit your files. The following are possible headers: Subjects; What are my strengths?;Where do I feel lacking in knowledge, confidence or skills?; What do I need to do to address this?; When will I achieve this?(Allocate time and date); Completed (tick off when done).
During this half term break you may wish to start your audit by starting with your three weakest subjects. This will give you more time to address any knowledge gaps which may exist. Think of this as the foundation of your revision.
All Present and Correct
This sounds obvious but as you audit, be mindful that all your notes are present. You do not want any nasty last minute shocks at Easter. Check with your teacher or get a copy of the course content if you are unsure what should be in your files. If anything is missing be specific about how are going to address this. For example, make a note on your grid that you are going speak to your teacher or you are going to reread the chapter in your course textbook.
Make A Personalised Schedule
For some people, an early start is preferable whereas others may prefer to start mid-morning or afternoon. Whatever you decide, consider that you will want to get a sunshine boost during the day. Allocating about four hours per day for studying during half term seems about right but you may wish to double check this with your own school. Weekends could be left largely for relaxation.
Act On Marking
This is so important. Your teachers will likely spend a huge amount of time marking. Block in time to respond to any comments on your work and have a go at improving your original work. Ask your teacher if they might possibly be able to have another look at your corrections to check you are now on the right track.
Little and often is a sensible way of approaching learning which involves lots of small pieces of information. Languages learning may fall into this category. Try allocating yourself a small slot on your schedule, perhaps quarter of an hour before bed to learn 10-15 words per day during the week. And test yourself on all the words at the weekend. You can start this system during half term but then continue once you are back in your usual school routine.
Don't overdo it. There is still quite a long way to go before the actual exams. It is so important to look after yourself. Schedule in time for fun, fresh air and for some of those long lie-ins too.