Students across the country are getting ready to take their exams for GCSE and ALevel. But what can they do to improve their chances of getting great grades?
Pick up a Pen and Paper
While we think of technology as an enabler, when it comes to learning, laptops and tablets might actually hinder our ability to retain information.
A study found that taking lecture notes using pen and paper meant students retained more information and did better in tests. It’s all about making a connection to the subject and summarising the teacher, rather than simply transcribing what they say.
Relax and Get Some Sleep
The typical image of a hardworking student is one that revises late into the night and who accelerates into their studies when exams are approaching. But that’s actually a student who’s doing everything wrong.
Learning efficiently is all about spacing the amount of work one does, leaving long gaps between sessions and giving yourself time to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Get a calendar and plot regular study days in the weeks ahead, giving plenty of time for rest. Only then will your brain be able to soak everything in.
Make Sure you Understand it
“After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn’t know what anything meant.”
That’s Richard Feynman, Nobel winning physicist. He knew that education was about understanding, not merely reciting facts. Now there’s a body of research that suggests students who think deeply about what they are learning may remember more of it. They should feel empowered to sketch out the relationship between topics and rearrange and reassemble information so that it makes sense to them.
In a way, it’s similar to what some authors do. Before they start writing they jot down characters and plot points on Post-it notes and literally move them around to see how everything fits together. For a pupil, that might mean revising using index cards and whiteboards, so they stop thinking about knowledge as something that happens in a straight line.
Students have to become storytellers of their subjects.