How do you help your students revise?

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The dreaded hour is upon us … It’s revision time! 

I excitedly anticipate this time each year, in my head it is a magical period where the whole specification has been taught and I can re-cover areas the students are less secure in. I imagine lessons packed with eager faces full of questions arising from their well planned revision at home. Then the reality kicks in, a mixed bag of students in front of me, with varying levels of understanding and a barrel load of misconceptions. 

So, how can we address the revision period? A lot depends on how much time we have. In truth, the luxury of having a long revision period brings with it the additional pressure of the need to carefully plan how that time is used. This isn’t to make sure every last minute counts, more to prevent the students getting too bored and completely switching off at just the point when you need them to be stepping up.

Some schools have significantly shortened the study leave period so revision has become the responsibility of the school, not just of the student. This is in stark contrast to higher education. If a student chooses to go to university they are unlikely to receive much in the way of guided revision from their lecturers – perhaps one lecture recapping the key concepts or going over last year’s exam paper. 

How to help?

Many students don’t know how to revise and, sometimes, what to revise, despite the enormous amount of information available to them. We might long for a past where there were few resources available – the textbook and the students’ exercise books used to suffice. Nowadays there are revision guides, workbooks, e-learning resources, websites, past papers, YouTube … But perhaps this is where a teacher can be most helpful.

I don’t claim to have a magic bullet where planning revision is concerned. In fact, I’m particularly interested in hearing how you approach it. I tend to try and make sure there are a variety of activities, use their latest assessment (usually a mock exam) to inform weaknesses for the whole class and use my own knowledge of where exam answers have evolved to plan our time. 

So, EiC community, what are your favourite revision activities?

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