It is early March. There are four weeks left of term before the Easter holidays. What do we expect of our AS and A2 students and what should they expect of themselves in these final weeks before exams?
The answer is that we expect a lot. This is the moment. No more putting off until later; later has arrived.
Students should now be stopping other things, giving up part-time work, suspending their social life, prioritising their academic work. And now is also the time to start looking after yourself too. Stop the late nights; make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time and get enough sleep. Make sure you eat properly and get enough to drink. Wean yourself off your virtual life and excesses of social media.
Of course, you don’t have to be a complete hermit, you will still need to have a bit of fun in your life, see your friends a little, do some exercise, listen to some music, watch some TV, whatever. But you need to re-design your life for the next couple of months, so that everything is based around your work schedule.
You should be working in all your free periods at college, working every evening, working every Saturday and every Sunday. Does that sound tough? Well you have a long summer holiday coming up shortly when you can rest and play.
Get a diary or a calendar and divide up the days into periods, and plan which subject you are going to work on each slot in each day. And for each subject, break it down into chunks and allocate topics to slots in your diary. Try to interleave, so that you come back to topics and reinforce your revision.
Make sure you give yourself the occasional day off, the occasional evening off. If you work well the other times, you can have a day off without feeling guilty or worried.
The heart of good revision should be doing the things you need to do in the exam. Solving problems, writing short answers, writing essays or at least planning them. You need to test yourself on what you are expected to do in exams. Reading, highlighting, making notes are the least effective thing you can do. Talk to your teachers about good revision practice in that subject.
Use pen and paper for revision. Get off the computer – you won’t have a computer in the exam. Don’t watch videos on how to solve a problem or present an argument, at least not until you have spent a long time trying to do it yourself. Don’t give up too easily or quickly. For example, giving up on a maths question and looking at the solution is usually the way to guarantee you won’t be able to do the question in the exam. Stick with it, think about it, try this or that, find a similar one in your notes, think about it some more. Remember – good learning is when you are thinking hard; conversely, if you are not thinking hard, you are probably wasting your time.
When you are revising, turn off your phone, shut down any social media, get rid of distractions.
You might feel stressed out. People tell me they are stressed out. Okay, you’re stressed. Concentrate on what you have to do – make a list or a schedule or a plan. And then get on with it. If you are working really hard, if you are busy, you will be less stressed. Stress is often a feeling people get when things are out of control – so take control. Work out what you have to do, and do it.