My daughter is in the middle of mock mocks – a series of GCSE-level exams in all subjects that is supposed to help her prepare for her real mocks in December/January.
She started off petrified and panicked. I was concerned that my daughter had no frame of reference for this. SATs are not the same thing at all. I googled everything I could think of, I found what I thought was a great site on planning for exams – Get Revising! – collaborative too – but it’s much longer term, so one to go back to after the mock mocks.
I read this great article on The Telegraph : Revision from GCSE to A Level
“The most important time in a student’s academic year is the two hours spent planning their revision,” says Patrick Wilson, a former teacher and founder of private tuition firm Tutor Crowd. “It can take a whole afternoon, but it’s critical that they finish the plan. Because once they’ve made a physical commitment to that piece of paper, something inside them changes. Even when they don’t feel like working, they’ve got an unambiguous commitment – an invisible hand will drag them to that desk.”
This gave me something PRACTICAL I could do to help – create a revision timetable. Catherine would appreciate the structure, and looking forward to planned breaks. I sat down with Catherine, and read her the highlights of the article, agreed what we were going to do, and that it could take a while. (It took 90 minutes the first time – about 50 minutes when I created one with my neice a day later)
First of all, we had a discussion around how much time should be spent revising in a day. My Dad had always said two-thirds working, one-third off, and that seemed reasonable. Catherine suggested that during half-term she should treat it like a school-day – making lessons an hour long, and with similar timings for breaks, because that’s what her body (and brain) were used to. We agreed that in the evenings before the exams when she was at school, she had room for three hour long sessions, with breaks – two half hours and one hour-long break. We also agreed that for one session an evening, she would have my services to test her, go for a talk and walk (something we had discovered we both enjoyed, and more importantly, that worked revision-wise for her), or answer questions – either from my own (not so vast) knowledge, or by expert googling. (TES teachers resources, including many revision aids – all free and The Student Room became my new best friends)
Then, we downloaded a weekly planner, and we printed out a page for every week of the exams, and the week before (yes, we were pretty late getting started!). We put all her usual commitments in – clubs, piano lessons, her one night a week job, and her lessons and exams, and then blocked out the sessions, and the breaks, but didn’t assign them to subjects yet.
Then we wrote down all her subjects, and she ranked them out of ten for how confident she felt, so we could use this to prioritise if we couldn’t have equal numbers of sessions.
Then the first few exams, the subjects she enjoys and is good at, as it happens, and it’s not so bad. She comes home for the first few days full of what she did, how she did, what her grades might be. She even gets one result back and is pleased with that.
She hasn’t left enough time to revise for the hardest exams in the second week.