Getting started with Revision

Getting started with Revision

Exams & Revision What's new? Young people

Many young people leave revision to the last minute because they don’t know how to do it and they have a general fear of the unknown. So the best way to get over those fears is to find some techniques that work for you.

Everyone has their own unique revision style and overtime you’ll discover the best techniques that work for you. However, if you want to improve your grades and excel in exams, there are some essential things that you must do. We’ve listed this below.

1. Set some goals
What are your predicted grades? What are the grades that you’d like to achieve in your exams? How much would it mean for you to achieve those grades? What difference would it make in your life? Think about the end goal. The exam period will be over soon and if you can hold on and work hard, you will be glad later on. Summer and other school holidays will be even better if you know that you worked hard for your exams. Why do you want to get good grades? To go to sixth form, university, get an apprenticeship, be a more well-rounded and educated person? Thinking about this can give you some perspective and help you to see why you are putting the effort in. How will you feel if you achieve those ideal grades? How would you feel if you didn’t get those grades? It’s important that you know why it is that you are revising, and why it matters to you. Once you know this, you can get started with your revision.

2. Just get started
So you’ve set some goals for yourself, now it’s time to just get started. You may initially feel overwhelmed by the thought of having so much work to do. You may even feel that you don’t have a lot of time until your exams. However, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in one month, one week, or one day – if you just get started! It’s easy to procrastinate and ‘wish’ that you’d started ages ago but the reality is that you can’t go back in time. The only thing you can do is get moving and get started.

3. Get an overview of where you’re going
If you don’t know where you are going, every road will lead you nowhere. The same applies to revision. You must have an overview of all the topics included in the exam. This is sometimes called the ‘exam syllabus’. Sometimes this can be very detailed, so you really just need a summary. Your teacher may be able to give this to you. Alternatively, you can use an exam board textbook and look at the content page. This page will usually summarise all the topics that are included in the exam. You can then break this up and use this to plan the topics that you’d like to revise in preparation for the exam.

4. Make notes using content from textbooks & different resources
Your revision should always involve making notes. Ideally, you should have one study or revision notebook for each subject. You can use bullet points when making notes and use different coloured highlighters to make various parts of your notes stand out. Your notes should be a summary of what you’ve learned from textbooks, revision books, in videos, revision websites, past papers, and what you’ve learned from school. You may be able to buy textbooks and revision books that are specific to your exam board. Have a look online and ask your teacher if you’re not sure which one to buy. Be careful of googling questions and making notes using various websites – not all the information online is correct. Make sure you get information from a trusted source.

5. Stay motivated & Stay focused
Revising doesn’t come naturally to everyone and you’ll need to figure out a way to stay motivated and stay focused. One way to do this, is to think about ways you can reward yourself. So – What’s on your wishlist? What is a big enough reward that will motivate you to get started? How you reward yourself is up to you. It’s best that you think of a big reward that will motivate you to achieve your personal target grade. You can also ask your parents/carers if they can give you a reward or if they will be willing to ‘chip’ in and get that reward for you. You can also think of smaller rewards that can help you stay focused eg. I’ll only watch that movie this weekend if I’m able to revise for 4 hours this week.

6. Create a revision timetable
We have a template that you can use to create a revision timetable. It is similar to a study timetable. The only difference is that you’ll need to take your exams into consideration when you design it and it will need to be updated regularly. You should also aim to have a balance of different subjects based on the upcoming exams. During exam season, you will probably need to update your schedule each week as you will have a new set of exams to focus on. If you’re struggling with creating a revision timetable then ask for help from a parent/carer, teacher, mentor, or tutor.

7. Self-care
Ensure you have eaten well before you revise or prepare some healthy snacks to eat during revision. If you are hungry, it will be hard to concentrate and your revision session will not be as efficient. Also, make sure that you get enough sleep. Your revision will be more effective if your mind is well rested. It is better to spend one hour concentrating hard and making good progress with your revision, than spend three hours struggling to take in any information because you are tired.

8. Remove the distractions
Remove things that you know will distract you. Give your phone/tablet/tv remote control to someone at home and ask them not to give it back until you have finished! Alternatively, you can put it in another room so it will take a lot of effort to go and get it. Try to find a quiet space at home where you can be alone and shut the door. If this is not possible, try earphones/headphones with relaxing music on low volume. Tell your family that you are revising and ask that they do not disturb you. It’s important that you stay focused when you’re revising. When you’re not focused, you end up wasting a lot of time.

9. Take regular breaks
It’s important that you take regular breaks when you’re studying or revising. You may have heard of the Pomodoro technique which is meant to be highly effective. The aim is that you work in 25 minute chunks with 5 minute breaks (pomodoros) and after every 4 pomodoros, you take an additional longer 20 minute break. Another way to take breaks a break every hour ie. set an alarm for every hour or every half hour. Another way to ensure that you have regular breaks, is to plan your next break as a mini-reward ie. when I finish reading this chapter, then I’ll give myself a 15 minute break. Whichever way you choose to do it, it’s important that you take regular breaks.

10. Use Past papers
This is one of the most important things that you can use to aid your revision. You don’t need to learn everything before you look at the past question papers. When you look at past question papers and accompanying mark schemes, you can see the common questions that come up and the keywords that you must include in your answers in order to get full marks. You can even use past question papers as a key feature of your exam revision ie. start your revision by looking at recent past question papers and start making notes based on what you see. If you use this method, you’ll know the frequently asked questions for the exam and you’ll know exactly which topics to spend the most time on.

11. Test your knowledge
When little children are taught how to spell, they are told to ‘Look, Cover, Spell then Check’. This is exactly what you should be doing when you’re revising. You can spend a considerable time reading and making notes but at some point, you will need to test your knowledge. The best way to do this is by using mini-quizzes and end of chapter tests. You don’t always need to use past question papers to test yourself. The best way to test yourself is to do it in small chunks while revising a new topic and at the end of revising for a topic. This way you’ll be very clear on your strengths and weaknesses within that topic and you’ll know the areas that you need to revisit or revise again.

12. Getting rid of anxiety
Preparing for your exams using thorough revision techniques will help you feel confident during your exam week/s. If you think you have left it too late, do not worry. You can still do something about it. Make the most of the time you have and focus on the most important topics. Make sure you get enough sleep before your exam. On the night before your exam, do not panic and stay up all night revising – This will have a negative impact on your memory recall which could impact your exam grade! Instead, run through some notes but keep it concise. Relax and go to bed at your normal time. If you feel panic setting in, talk to someone about your concerns. Some nerves are normal but you must remember that it’s just an exam. All you can do is your best and the only way to do your best is if you are well rested.

13. Think about how you learn best
There are lots of different ways to take in information and everyone has a learning style that helps them learn in the best way. Are you more visual or do you prefer listening? What’s your favourite way of memorising information? Do you prefer maps, diagrams, sketches, flash cards, notebooks or folders with dividers? Are you better at revising on your own or do you prefer doing shared revision sessions and teaching a friend what you have learned? As you build confidence with revising, you’ll discover revision methods that work best for you.

As you spend more time revising, you’ll build confidence in your revision techniques and you’ll come up with new and improved ways of revising. Keep looking for ways to challenge yourself and make your revision more effective. Over time you’ll find better ways of making notes, staying organised and memorising topics. As you build more experience with revising, you’ll find it easier to pay attention in class and you’ll feel more confident asking questions in class.

You’ll also become better at managing your time, you’ll set higher goals for yourself and you may even begin to start looking forward to any upcoming exams!

13 Tips to help you get started with Studying & Reduce Exam Anxiety

13 Tips to help you get started with Studying & Reduce Exam Anxiety

Exams & Revision What's new? Young people

What do we mean by Study Skills?
The dictionary defines ‘Study’ as:

  • The devotion of time and attention to gaining knowledge of an academic subject
  • A detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation

The best way to think of studying, is a time that you dedicate beyond the classroom, to understand even more about a subject.

What’s the difference between studying and revision?
Everyone has a different experience of studying and revision – your experience will usually depend on the information given by your school. Some schools have a huge focus on building your study skills and other schools will only focus on revision.

The key difference between studying and revision is that studying is something that you can do throughout the year and throughout your school life. You can do it at any point in time. Revision is what you usually do in the last few weeks or months building up to an exam or a test.

To Revise means to ‘Revisit’ so, in theory, you can’t revisit some information if you didn’t study it in the first place. Many young people feel anxious about exams and revision because revision feels daunting. They never had a chance to study the information so revision means they are ‘studying’ the information for the first time.

In this blog, we’ll explain some of the key things that you should consider when setting up a study routine.

1. Have a clear goal in mind
It’s important that you start with an end goal in mind. What are the grades that you’d like to achieve? Which subjects are you struggling with? Which subjects do you find easier? How much time can you realistically dedicate to studying? What are your predicted grades at school? What are the grades that you would like to achieve ie. your personal target grades? You may decide that there are only a few subjects that you want to study each week because you don’t have time to study every single subject.

2. Small chunks make a huge difference
You don’t have to study for long periods of time every day. Similar to revision, it’s important to take breaks when you’re studying. This means studying in 20-50 minute chunks followed by 10-15 minute breaks. You may decide that you want to study for 1 hour a day or just 30 minutes per day. You may don’t have to study for a huge period of time and you may be selective about what you study eg. you may choose to only study the things that you found difficult in that week. This means that you use your study sessions to ‘troubleshoot’ and get a better understanding of those areas that you struggled with at school that day or that week.

3. Set up a study timetable
Where possible you should dedicate a couple of hours each day to studying and a study timetable can help you achieve this. The aim of a study timetable is to remind you about the best times to study and to give you an idea of the subject/s to study each day. It removes decision fatigue because it means you don’t waste half an hour deciding on what to study and you just jump straight in and start studying a subject based on what you have written in your study timetable. When creating your study timetable it’s important to consider the best time of day to study. Do you want to study during the week? And weekends? Mornings? After-school? In the late evening? Do you want to have some days off?

4. Some things are more urgent than studying
In an ideal world, it would be great if you could follow your study timetable and make time to study every single day. However, this might not be realistic due to various more urgent tasks that need to be completed eg. completing your coursework, pieces of homework or revising for a test. Be realistic and be aware that some days you will need to focus on what is ‘urgent’ and you won’t be able to study. It’s urgent that you revise for upcoming exams so you get a decent grade and it’s urgent that you complete your homework so that you can submit it on time. On days like this, studying will just have to wait.

5. Paying attention in class
It’s much more effective to pay attention in class than to spend time studying and re-learning at home. The point of studying is to gain a better understanding of something that you’ve already been introduced to. If you pay attention in class, you’ll find that you don’t have a huge amount of studying at home. This is because you are already making sense of things in class and you have fewer questions.

6. Make clear & concise notes
Research shows that you are more likely to remember things when we have made hand-written notes about it. It’s important that you make clear and concise notes in dedicated notebooks that you can use purely for study and revision. One notebook or folder for each subject is highly recommended. However, the contents for each notebook will probably look quite different. You may make notes using mind maps, diagrams, or summary posters in one subject, highlighted notes in another subject, index cards for another subject. In maths, you may simply practise questions under that topic and have a notebook with all the formulas, definitions, and examples. You don’t have to use the same ‘study style’ for every single subject. You can choose what works best for you.

7. Textbooks & Past papers
Before you make notes, you need to decide on the resources that you’ll be using for learning. Most exam boards create a specific textbook to help their students prepare for the upcoming exams. They also make sure that the past question papers are readily available to students that want to prepare for the exams. It is highly recommended that you use these textbooks and past papers to help you with the exam preparation.

8. Make the most of different resources
In addition to textbooks and past question papers, you can use a wide range of resources to help you with studying. In science, you may prefer to use a combination of textbooks and youtube videos. You may have a specific language website or audio guidebook that you use for languages. In Maths, you may have a website that provides past question papers based on each topic. In History or Geography, you may prefer to watch summarised video clips and make notes while you watch it. The most important thing is that you decide the learning format that is most effective and efficient for you – no time wasting! For our favourite pick of over 250 free learning websites, visit

9. Create a topic list
Most people study the topic that was most recently covered in class. Some people study topics based on the contents page for their textbook or the syllabus list for the upcoming exams. You may decide to shorten the list by only studying the topics that you’ve found really difficult. It’s important that you have a summary list of the topics that you will be covering in your study time, as well as topics that you want to study in more detail in the future. You can check these off as you go. The list serves two purposes. Firstly, it gives you a sense of accomplishment, so you know how far you have come. Secondly, it gives a sense of direction so you know which topics you still need to cover in the future.

10. Create an environment that works for studying
Do you like to study with music on or are you more effective working in silence? If you listen to music, what kind of music? What are the potential distractions that you might have when studying or revising? How can you reduce those distractions? Do you prefer to study or revise in a local library or do you prefer working at home? Do you prefer to study with friends or on your own? Can you work in your room or do you need to be somewhere else in your home? Do you need to turn off your phone, does it need to be on silent or do you just give it to a parent because you know that it’s too distracting? Everyone is different and everyone has their preferred way of studying. You must take the time to understand what works best for you and keep making changes whenever you realise that it’s not working.

11. Ask for help if you get stuck
If you’re stuck, and you’re struggling with a topic, then there are a few things you can do: You can take a short break or try a new technique and if that’s not working, then you must ask for help. One of the key benefits of studying is that it gives you a sense of ownership of your learning. You can choose what you want to study, when you want to study and how you want to study. This independent way of learning has many advantages but one of the disadvantages is that you may forget to ask for help. If you find that you’re struggling with a topic then make sure you ask for help. This can be from a parent /carer, a teacher, or a tutor. You don’t have to do it all on your own.

12. Be mindful of when to switch to revision mode
Studying gives you the luxury of digging deep into topics and sometimes even exploring new topics and discovering new things that will not be coming up in the exam. Once you build momentum with studying, you might actually start to enjoy it! However, it is different from revision and as you approach your exams, you will need to switch gears and move into revision mode. Revision does not give you the luxury of exploring new topics and discovering new things. When you’re revising, you cannot afford to waste any time. When you’re revising, you’ll need to focus on the exam at hand. You must focus on the topics within the exam, make sure you test yourself and assess your knowledge and make sure that you address any knowledge gaps in a way that helps you feel prepared for the exams.

13. Assess your knowledge: How do you know if you are studying in the right way? How will you know if the time that you’re putting into studying is worth it? The only way you can know is to test yourself ie. assess your knowledge. This is a key part of studying. You can make notes all day but it’s pointless if you can’t remember or apply what you’ve learned. So how can you test yourself? Most textbooks will have an end-of-chapter quiz section and many websites will have a questionnaire or exam-style questions that you can use to test your knowledge. Make sure that the quiz has accompanying answers so you know if you’re getting it right. One of the main advantages of quizzing yourself during your study time, is that you don’t have the pressure of trying to get everything 100% correct. The most important thing is that you make a note of the quiz questions that you struggled with and study this again. If you’re still struggling, then make sure you ask for help from a teacher or a tutor. Assessing your knowledge regularly will help you build more confidence, it will help you become more secure in your knowledge, and it will ultimately make revision for exams much easier.

So What is the Key advantage of studying throughout the year?
When you choose to Study a new topic, you are deciding to gain a full understanding of that topic. It makes exam revision much easier because you’ll have a better understanding when you’re revising and re-visiting a topic. If you study all through the year, revision will be much easier and you’ll probably find that it has a hugely positive impact on your exam grades.

The True Cost of Private Tutoring, Mentoring, and Enrichment: How we are able to reduce this cost

The True Cost of Private Tutoring, Mentoring, and Enrichment: How we are able to reduce this cost

Educational inequality Exams & Revision Improving academic attainment Parents What's new?

Why does tutoring, mentoring and enrichment matter? 
Research from the Education Endowment Foundation shows that private tutoring can accelerate learning by up to 5 months within a year. Mentoring and enrichment add further value as it is able to provide young people with the right strategies and tools to reach their career aspirations and personal development goals.

What are the barriers? 
However, many young people from low-income homes are not able to access these valuable services due to financial constraints. The reality is that high-quality private tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment programmes are simply not affordable. This means that young people from low-income homes are not able to achieve the same as their peers from higher-income homes. The Education Policy Institute reported that just 1 in 10 pupils from low-income homes in England were able to achieve top grades in GCSE Maths in 2018, with similar results for English.

How much does this cost?
In London, the average costs of these programmes per term are:

  • Tutoring for 12 hours x £40/hour = £480
  • Mentoring for 6 hours x £60/hour = £360
  • Enrichment for 3 days x £120/day = £360
  • Residential enrichment for 5 days x £200/day = £1,000
  • Coding workshops for 1 day = £190

This means that if you want to access a full programme of academic and mentoring support which includes private tutoring, mentoring and enrichment, it will cost you £1,200 per term! This, of course, is far too expensive for most parents.

How are we tackling this? 
GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise, so our goal is to provide high-quality private tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programmes that ensure that ambitious young people have the support they need to achieve their full potential in life, regardless of their background.

We do this by working with DBS checked volunteer tutors and mentors who are dedicated to helping young people to achieve their aspirations.

Our goal is to ensure that ambitious young people from all backgrounds can access our high-quality learning and development programmes and this we charge means-tested fees which range from £9-£26 per hour.

Our means-tested fee model
By using a means-tested fee model, parents from low-income homes can enrol their child in one of our programmes at a substantially reduced cost. And for parents from relatively middle-income homes, paying full fees, the cost of the programme is still considerably less than what they would pay elsewhere.

Making a difference
We’re passionate about social mobility and we know that even at a reduced cost, some parents will simply not be able to afford this due to huge financial constraints. This is why we provide a limited number of free places for young people on Free School Meals. This is all done through our existing funding from previous terms but also thanks to funding from a range of organisations who are also passionate about improving social mobility for young people from low-income homes.

The GT Scholars Programme is a not-for-profit social enterprise that tackles educational inequality and improves social mobility by helping young people aged 11-18 gain access to selective universities and competitive careers. Our tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programmes are designed to give young people the support, skills and strategies they need to achieve their ambitions. Contact us to find out more.