What’s your revision personality?

(Plus – how can you improve your methods?)

Think you’ve got your revision nailed? Do you have a tried and trusted system that got you through GCSEs? A lot of students find that what worked for GCSE doesn’t always work for A Level – especially in a subject like chemistry where there is SO much to learn in such a short space of time.

Whatever your revision looks like at the moment, take the quick quiz below to see if you can improve your strategy and make the best use of your time. Most of the questions you will probably feel like more than one answer applies, so just choose the one that is most like you – and be honest! When you’ve finished, read the revision personality summary to see what you do well and get some easy tips on how to enhance your strategies.

  1. How often do you go back over notes from class, making your own notes, mind maps or flashcards?
    • A. Regularly – I set aside time for this
    • B. When I have a test or exam coming up
    • C. I only do this when I don’t understand something
    • D. Never – I can’t seem to find the time
  2. How do you organise your time when it comes to revision?
    • A. I plan out time to go over each topic
    • B. I make sure I have time to do past papers regularly
    • C. I identify the areas I struggle with and concentrate on those
    • D. I just get as much done as possible when I have the time
  3. If you have a class test, what is/are the resources you use most often to revise?
    • A. Notes, topic checklists, revision guide, flashcards and online quizzes
    • B. Topic based questions from textbooks or past paper websites
    • C. I go back over old homeworks and assessments and mark schemes
    • D. My teacher usually gives me questions to go through with a mark scheme
  4. When you use practice questions, how do you use them?
    • A. I do the ones I can then check my notes when I get stuck
    • B. I do them under exam conditions without checking notes
    • C. I read through them and compare to the mark schemes or sample answers
    • D. I do what I can but I often get stuck or run out of time
  5. What do you do when you get a piece of marked work back, such as a test or homework assignment?
    • A. Check the grade and file it with my notes for that topic
    • B. Keep it so I can use the same questions again for revision
    • C. Ask to discuss any areas I found difficult with my teacher, or use these areas to make a list of topics to go back over
    • D. Chuck it in my folder or the bottom of my bag
  6. How do you use mark schemes when you are revising?
    • A. I use mark schemes when I’m stuck on a past paper question
    • B. I use them to mark questions after I did them in exam conditions
    • C. I use them separate to the questions, looking at the extra comments for clues
    • D. I don’t usually get time but I use them when I’m stuck
  7. Do you use video walkthroughs of exam questions or examiner’s reports?
    • A. Not often, I prefer to go through topics separately
    • B. Occasionally, if I have done all the practice questions
    • C. All the time – they are my favourite method of revision
    • D. What’s an examiner’s report?
  8. What is your worst problem when you come to sit a test or exam?
    • A. I’m confident in my knowledge but I can’t apply it to the questions
    • B. I make loads of silly errors and lose marks
    • C. I forget a lot of the basics and stuff that should be easy
    • D. It’s all just a total car crash to be honest
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Results: what’s your revision personality?

Mostly A: Content comfort zone

You are super organised and have some great strategies in place to make sure your revision is thorough. You plan your time so that you can go through every topic before a test or exam, and you use different techniques to test yourself. Despite all this preparation, however, you find that you get thrown by exam questions and struggle to apply your knowledge under test conditions.

How to improve: while it’s great that you’re thorough, don’t forget to leave time for practising exam questions under real conditions. Instead of focusing always on individual topics, make sure you do mixed questions so that you don’t always know what the question is about – and don’t look at the mark scheme until you’ve finished! When you do look at the mark scheme, make a note of the areas you still need to focus on so that your revision is more efficient – don’t be tempted to keep going over material you already know well. As you cover more topics in your revision you’ll be able to prepare for more synoptic content.

Mostly B: Practice makes perfect

You definitely have the right idea when it comes to doing practice questions – and they are a great way to prepare for an exam. Despite doing so many practice questions, however, you do seem to still lose marks on silly errors or forget some of the basics. At other times, you get the wrong end of the stick and misinterpret what the question is asking for.

How to improve: make sure you know the essential parts of the topic before you apply it to exam questions. Use notes, flashcards and online quizzes to get this sorted – there is no point using exam questions until you’re confident in the facts. As mentioned above, don’t focus always on individual topics – mix it up! Hopefully you’re already doing exam questions under timed conditions without checking your notes – but don’t forget to leave plenty of time to check the mark scheme so you’re aware of where the silly errors are creeping in. Consider using examiner’s reports as well so that you know what to look out for.

Mostly C: Feedback fanatic

You are an unusual student – you pay very close attention to the details in mark schemes and study your teacher’s marking comments religiously, always looking for ways to improve and score more marks. While this is definitely not the worst strategy, you might have a tendency to overthink things. While you’re bright and understand the material in lessons, you often draw a blank in exam situations and forget things that should be relatively easy.

How to improve: Don’t underestimate the importance of knowing the basics well. Instead of always focusing on things you don’t understand or marks you missed, make sure you spend time learning equations, formulae, colour changes and other key facts so you don’t miss out on these marks. Don’t jump straight to the mark schemes until you’ve had time to practice questions under timed conditions.

Mostly D: Procrastinate and panic

Good news – at least you’re honest about your revision! While last minute cramming might have worked for GCSE, you’re probably finding that it’s not effective at A Level and you may be lost wondering how and where to start with your revision. Putting things off leaves you even more overwhelmed with the content you have to cover and if you’re not careful this could become a vicious circle – the more you put off revision, the harder and more daunting it gets.

How to improve: the good news is that the only way is up! Anything you do is going to be better than nothing – the most important thing is to start and build a habit. Start today – look at your timetable and find any time – maybe just 20-30 minutes. Tell yourself what you’re going to do with that time – study some flashcards, do a few practice questions, go back over some notes. The next day, find another period of time and do something different. After a couple of days, sit down and look at the whole week ahead and plan a little bit of activity each day. For more tips on what activities to do, check out the ideas in the ‘how to improve’ sections above.

Want to get all your revision organised, right up to the final exam? Find out about my A Level masterclasses to have your revision planned out for you, with live classes and online support.

Claire Costello-Kelly

Claire Costello-Kelly

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