Revision Reality

This year, I have the treat of being in year 11, which means that I face my first year of ‘proper’ exams. For the past few months, I have been working hard and researching for tips and information about the dreaded ‘revision’. However, all of these videos and blog posts seem to be the same, and none of them seem close to my current experience. I wanted to write about the realities of revision and my honest thoughts about it, tips that I’ve found to be actually useful and challenges I’ve been facing.

The truth is that revision is hard and feels shit. Year 11 is a particularly hard year because a) for most people it is the first time you face exams and revision and b) it means you face a huge number of subject exams (most of which are ones you hate, as they are compulsory). Last year, when I was in year 10, I took RE, ICT and Maths early, so got a taster for what I thought year 11 would be like, but it hasn’t been anything like that.

I’m currently in my Easter holiday, the opportunity to do a bulk of revision and what my teachers seem to have nicknamed ‘the final straight’. Only I still feel like I did in September that I started this year. I can’t fathom how much time I’ve had already this year and the thought of the time that is trickling away makes me feel ill.

In my mind, I felt I’d be on top of it. I thought I’d be managing everything and at least feel confidence in some areas, but I don’t. I feel like I’ve got a room I’m filling with people, all saying different things-talking in different languages, but the room is small and as full as I feel it can be. However, every day, I’m pushing more and more people in. Only my brain is the room and the people represent every fact I’m meant to know.

Challenge #1 Stress
When discussing year 11, I don’t feel like stress has been talked about enough. Teachers at my school seem to skim over it, only mentioning it as a form of motivation. No one talks about the stress that creeps into your everyday thoughts. The stress that makes going out with friends and family seem impossible. The stress that lead me to uncontrollably crumple into a puddle of tears only a few nights ago, after a skirting, mindless comment about the amount of revision I’d done that day. The stress is quickly becoming the worst challenge.

Tip: Stress relief is a very un-talked about topic but is very important. Just like finding a revision style that works for you, I feel finding a stress relief method is vital. This can be a range of things, from baths, to watching films and going for a swim. All things I’ve trialled over the last few days. What I find is hugely important is to make sure you have a good amount of stress relief before bed. I’m not talking the Youtube video in your break, I’m talking a good hour of winding down so you’re ready to sleep well and become focused again when you start the next day.

Challenge #2 Getting caught up
Revision is a suffocating bitch. It controls your life and, all of a sudden, becomes a long part of your daily routine. My Easter holiday has been tough, and although I’ve tried to fill it with some day trips and free time, revision is still constant. Furthermore, as I feel most people around me are revising too, I’m caught up in comparing myself. Comparing yourself is poisonous and I know it, but it’s not something I choose to do- something that just happens.

Tip: Although I have little to help comparining yourself to others (apart from a couple of good Pinterest quotes), one thing I find useful is to see how far I’ve come. At the front of my revision book- yes I know, I have a revision tracking book- I have a tick list of things I want to do in revision. Things like take notes of B6, do a timeline for Germany and make key cards for textiles key words. By ticking these off, I can really have a sense of what I’ve achieved. What I’ve done- no one else.

Along with this, I find getting a change of location really helped me. Whether it's working downstairs instead of in your bedroom, taking a trip to the local costa (I did and it was really fun) or just revising with a friend.

Challenge #3 Revision timetables
One thing that really doesn’t work with me is the online revision timetable. This is for a assortment of reasons including the dull blue light of a computer screen having to be checked all the time, and my varying week schedule due to my part time job. What matters is that from the start I knew it wasn’t for me. And, as I’ll explain just below, I worked around it. Keeping to a timetable is still very tough. Alarms in holidays and weekends are killer, but at the end of the day you can tick off the however many hours you’ve done and feel great.

Tip: To create my simple paper revision time table, I began with creating a table on Powerpoint for the day of the week and hour segments in each day. I also had a section saying what I’d done last week and wanted to do this week. Then I created an Excel document and put in all my subjects, weeks before exams and exam dates. I worked out week by week what I needed to get done, so that when planning for a week, I just open my excel document and divvy up my time depending on what needs to be done by when.

So there are my main challenges and tips. This week I have also discovered the power of an hours swimming (exercise is always advised), Radio 1 in the background and making sure I feel in control. These exams are challenging, but they’re not meant to be easy. The last few days have really empowered me and I’m proud of how things are going now. I’ve only got a few more weeks of school left, and have an art exam only a week or so around the corner, but I know that hard work can and will pay off.

Good luck to all you head-down revisers, and remember to eat your greens.


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