We all know that revising for exams is difficult; it takes time, motivation and can sometimes feel like you’re getting nowhere when you still can’t remember that one calculation! There’s no shortcut to success but there are ways you can make your revision more efficient to spend less time reading every line of your textbook and more time mastering past paper questions.
Everyone’s revision style is completely different, there are various ways to revise and not all of them will work for you. Whether you’re studying for GCSE or you’ve moved onto A levels, finding the best way to revise for you is key. Whatever stage you’re at preparation is key and you will need to put in a lot of hard work to get the grades you want, it’ll all be worth it on results day!
If you’re stuck for revision tips here are some ideas that might help you, try a couple out or find your own.
Depending on your school the specific curriculum at GCSE and A level you follow can vary, but the core topics remain much the same.
Physics is, among many other topics, the study of energy, mechanics, atoms, space and of the physical environment.
At GCSE you will learn more about atoms, their structures and radiation. You’ll get to grips with gravity, elasticity and motion. This is where you’ll discover the famous Newton’s law of forces and acceleration. At A level you’ll go deeper into the forces of the universe, like velocity, acceleration, mass and energy. You’ll learn how these forces can applied in different contexts like how they affect motion of everything from electrons to plants.
Physics is all around us, and throughout your GCSE and A level studies you’ll find out the role it plays in how we move, see and feel in daily life.
The first step in revision is to prepare for what’s ahead. You need to know what is going to be on the exam paper on the day. Think about what topics could come up. You’ll need to look at the A level or GCSE course syllabus to get an overview of the year’s topics.
It’s good practice to regularly go over the syllabus checking which topics you’ve already covered and those you are yet to tackle. Which of these topics did you find most difficult? You might find there’s some topics that you need to refresh your memory on, or others you know you have more difficulty with.
This overview of the syllabus will give you a good place to start your revision. You can regularly go back to the syllabus throughout your revision to check your progress.
Look at the course specifications on your exam board’s website. These are extremely useful as they provide clear definitions for terms you need to know for the exam.
Good grades require good planning! (Source: VisualHunt)
Everyone will be familiar with this method, and classic as it is, it is actually an effective way of revising. The action of making notes itself is a way of learning and remembering, no one can take information in just from staring at a page.
But be mindful not to just copy the words out from the page, that doesn’t count. Try reading a section and summarising in bullet points in your own words. Follow the syllabus topic by topic making notes as you go, when you have summaries done for a topic go back and see if you can concisely explain them without reading the textbook.
At this stage in your studies, you need to understand rather than memorise. Make sure you really understand a topic before you move on. If you build strong foundations you can build on this knowledge as you move through the course.
Once you get to the end of a section in your textbook and feel like you know it, run through a few practice questions either online, or at the end of chapters in your textbook to really test your understanding.
While you are making your notes, highlight key terms or formulas you need to know and make them into visual aids you can display around your room. Flashcards and posters are a great way to display key ideas that you want to remember. This is especially useful if you’re a visual learner, use colours and bold text to make the information more memorable. You’ll associate the colours with the topics making them stand out more easily in your mind.
Display the visual aids in a place you regularly pass by or can see clearly. Repeatedly reading your notes is a great method to keep you constantly thinking and to really make sure you understand a subject.
Skimming these the morning of the exam will help boost your confidence, knowing you’ve covered everything!
Do every past paper you can find, as many times as you can. Getting used to the past papers will help you to understand the way the questions are structured and is one of the best ways to prepare for the exam.
There are many ways you can use past papers; you can use them to practice answering in exam-style language – remembering the key terms and topics from your note taking. You can also use them to practice exam conditions. Set a timer in a quiet room without any distractions, or revision notes! This will get you into the habit of completing the paper in the required time.
You can use the mark scheme of a paper to your advantage too. Mark schemes are a standardised way for the examiner to mark your exam.
They detail all the key points that you have to hit for each question. In exams, getting a good grade means more than just writing what you know, you must demonstrate your knowledge ensuring you’re hitting the key points the mark scheme specifies.
You have to answer the way the examiners want you to. This might seem impossible, but regularly doing past papers will get you into the habit.
Mark schemes will help you work out where you’ve gained and lost marks, and how well you’re answering the questions.
With the help of mobile apps, the basics of physics can be grasped anywhere on a phone or tablet. (Source: pixabay)
Besides your textbook, there is a wealth of knowledge to found online. Whatever topic you are looking for you’ll found plenty of resources to help you.
Here are some of our favourites:
This site is a great resource that will test your knowledge for both GCSE and A level. It will you get into the practice of learning, testing and remembering.
Each topic is broken down into sections that you first learn, then test with a quiz then remember it with revision notes. You can even create your own personal question banks and revision guides so you have a tailored plan for you.
This A level physics site has specific resources depending on your exam board. You can access videos on its YouTube channel or just on their website. This is great if you want exam board specific revision help.
BBC Bitesize is a great website for GCSE physics revision. The site is organised by topics so you can do tests, play games and get notes on whatever topic you need help with. You can also select your exam board and it will bring up specific topics from your curriculum!
Believe it or not, YouTube is a fantastic educational tool. Type in A Level or GCSE physics in the search bar and you’ll find hundreds of videos. It’s like having a personal tutor on demand with a video on any topic you need.
We especially like Richard Thornley’s channel on YouTube. His videos are accurate, succinct, and are really easy to understand.
Positive reinforcement is possibly the most significant, element of successful revision.
Revision isn’t just about your knowledge, you need to get yourself in a positive mindset to tackle your exams.
Finally, on exam day, remember that you have put the work in and can only achieve your best. Stay calm and try to avoid going into the exam in a sleep-deprived frenzy!
Whatever revision method you decide is best for you to make sure to use different ones to keep it interesting and to give yourself the best chance on exam day. The more prepared you are in the run-up to exam day the less stressed you’ll feel!