How to Revise for GCSE exams
Preparing for your GCSEs can be incredibly difficult, especially if you aren’t sure about how to revise effectively. The truth is, there isn’t one objectively superior revision style or method, and different techniques will work better for different people. For some, making use of flashcards might be the key to achievement, whilst others might benefit from listening to revision podcasts or watching videos. Essentially, how to revise for GCSE exams depends on what kind of way that you learn. Today, we’ll discuss the three main types of learner: visual, aural, and kinaesthetic. Once you’ve figured this out which learning styling fits you, we’ll discuss how to revise for GCSE exams.
There are three major ways that people revise and absorb information. These are:
• Visual – This involves using visual aids such as note-taking and creative mapping of information, to commit things to memory.
• Aural – The use of videos, music or other recordings to allow information to sink in.
• Kinaesthetic – Using activities which involve interaction, to remember key details (such as flashcards and revision games).
Different paths will work better for different people, but also bear in mind that certain subjects will also suit these methods differently. For example, Maths may be better suited to visual learning than aural learning, because mathematics (sums and equations) is more visually-oriented than other subjects. However, certain rules or formulae could be learned by placing notes around your study space, if you’re a kinaesthetic learner.
Essentially, you will need to experiment with different styles in order to find which ones best suit you, but you will also need to discover which works for each of your subjects. In the next three sections, we will examine the different methods of learning in more detail. Additionally, each method will be paired with the subjects which best suit it, as well as how to identify which style matches your own. Once you’ve figured out your learning style, you’ll be well on the way to understanding how to revise for GCSE exams.
What’s Your Learning Style?
The quickest way to figure out what kind of learner you are, is to think of what works best for you when trying to remember something. When someone needs to explain to you how to do something, what sinks in the best? Do you learn by watching others doing it first, or by listening to their explanation? Alternatively, you might learn best by giving it a try yourself. Use the following quick guide to figure out what kind of learner you might be:
• Visual – You learn best by watching others or reading information. If you’re learning a technique in a game, sport, or other activity, you would prefer to watch videos of others doing it, watching people do it in real-life, or by reading explanations. You might also learn from looking at images or diagrams.
• Aural – Listening is your preferred style of learning. You would rather ask for and listen to directions rather than look at a map. If you were learning something new, you’d rather listen to an explanation and follow the instructions.
• Kinaesthetic – You learn by doing things rather than just listening or reading. Rather than being told how to do something, you try to do it yourself. You prefer practical, energetic ways of learning as opposed to the traditional methods of reading, listening and note-taking.
Alternatively, you could take the learning style quiz in the following video to find out what learning style suits you, and therefore figure out how to revise for GCSE exams:
Now, we’ll take a look at some revision strategies for visual, aural, and kinaesthetic learners respectively. By reading these, you’ll learn how to revise for GCSE exams.
One great way of visually representing your notes, is by creating mind maps. These are webs of ideas and information connected to each other, to show how they are related. Generally, a central concept appears in the centre of a page, and then other details spread away from it. This is excellent for quickly jotting down all of the information you can remember, and then organising it into sections.
Videos, Animations and Slideshows
Visual learners can benefit greatly from watching videos and animations to help them revise. There’s a wealth of videos online, often made by people who recently sat exams, which can be used to help you get a better grasp of the material. Head over to a popular video-sharing website such as YouTube and search for the topic you’re currently revising. Always double-check that the information that they give is correct and relevant (by comparing what the videos say to what’s in your own textbooks), because it’s possible that these people studied a different curriculum to you.
Outside of the usual video-sharing sites, there are plenty of online resources which will give you videos, animations and slideshows to help you get your head around whatever you’re currently revising. Again, remember to check that the information you’re receiving matches what’s in your textbooks.
This method is great for splitting up long sessions of note-taking. If you’ve spent the whole day revising, and you’re getting tired of writing down notes, watching some revision videos online might provide some relief.
Reading out loud
This is the simplest method of aural learning, and can be done on your own and without any extra equipment. All you need is yourself, your textbook (or other study materials) and your voice!
Start by opening on a chapter or paragraph that you’re comfortable with, and then begin to read it to yourself out loud. When you come across a sentence or point which might be more complicated or confusing, read it multiple times. By doing this, it will stick in your head more, making you more likely to remember it.
Aural learners can benefit from using certain tones for different points. Singing notes that you need to remember, or creating catchy rhymes for them, can help you to keep them in mind more easily. It might sound silly at first, but they can be incredibly useful.
Aural learners can create acrostics and mnemonics to help them remember difficult spellings or more complex ideas. Acrostics and mnemonics are almost opposites of one another. An acrostic is a phrase you keep in mind to remember lots of smaller phrases or information.
For example, BIDMAS is an acrostic which can be used to remember how you should go about solving maths questions:
Indices (or ‘powers of’)
Mnemonics, on the other hand, are a collection of words used to remember a single, larger word. These are particularly good for spellings:
The colours in the rainbow can be remembered using the following mnemonic:
You can also use this acrostic to help you remember the colours of the rainbow!
Aural leaners can repeat the phrase “ROYGBIV” or “Richard of York gave battle in vain” until it sinks in fully. Then, if you got stuck in a test, all you’d need to do is recall the phrase!
With flashcards, you’ll want to write down some key notes from your textbooks or other revision materials. Take a large piece of card and cut it up into smaller segments. On one side of each card, write down the word or concept that you need to remember the meaning of. On the other, write down the key facts associated with the word. Here’s an example to get you started:
Once you’ve written all of your flashcards, turn them all facing front up and sort them into a deck (like a deck of playing cards). Then, take each card, read out the main word on the front, and then try and recall as many of the key facts as possible. You can do this by reading out loud, or by reading in your head – whichever suits you best.
Once you think you’ve finished listing them all, flip the card over to see if you missed any details. If you didn’t, congratulations! Put the card to one side and save it for later. If you missed anything, take note of it and put the card back at the bottom of the deck. This means that, once you’ve got through all of the other cards, you can attempt the ones you couldn’t completely remember before. One by one, you’ll start to eliminate cards from the deck, since you’ll remember all of the details for each of them. Once you’ve completed them all, take a short break before trying again.
Another method for using cards is to stick them around your workspace. Write a note on each piece of card and leave it somewhere in your room where you’re likely to see it often. Stick some to your mirror or the edge of a laptop screen, or even place them on the wall or on a bookshelf. You can even leave them around your house so that whenever you stop to make yourself a snack or go to the toilet, you’ll still be revising!
So, now you’ve got some ideas about how to revise for GCSE exams. As previously mentioned, GCSE revision depends on what kind of learner you are, so you need to find out whether you’re a visual, aural or kinaesthetic learner before starting your revision. Once you’ve done this, you’ll know exactly how to revise for GCSE exams.
If you want more revision tips and methods, check out our book on the subject: Pass Your GCSEs With Level 9s.