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Revision is like a box of chocolates... always leave the worst to the end!

We all do it, start at the beginning of the course and run out of time or put off our least favourite topics to the end. Mine was always plant biology, anything but transpiration I would think, it'll never come up I would say...and there it was time and time again!!

So how should we support those preparing for their exams? FOCUS

Encouraging and sometimes sitting down and helping them create a plan of action. The form it takes can be variable, some people like to use an existing template like a calendar, others make their own versions, but a visual plan of the days and weeks leading up to their final internal assessments and then the summer examinations is useful. Some people put off revision timetables, but once completed I usually see a sense of order and control return to those who have often been anxious or in denial. Like all goals they need to fit those SMART criteria; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.

S -List the subjects being examined and then break each one down into the topics covered (this can be time consuming, but invaluable). Often teachers have done this for students in the form of 'pupil speak' check lists and it is possible to rank topics in levels of concern, to aid prioritisation.

M - Using check lists of topics and past assessments to rank current understanding is important. As students move through their revision and complete 6-min mind maps, flashcard recall, past paper questions, gain additional feedback from final internal assessments, tutors, teachers etc...they will see progress in their actions. Reviewing checklists can be motivating and increase confidence as topics as ticked off and application or a deeper understanding of the content reached.

A - Some people revise like a working day, 9am-5pm with a lunch beak. We are all individuals with different motivations, ability to concentrate and focus for varying lengths of time. In your action plan include any leisure time which should be protected like revision periods. Include at least one weekly buffer session so there is a degree of flexibility. If things start to fall away reassess the structure of the days and don't be afraid to change things.

R - Stay with the programme, do not digress...the range of materials and methods used and the sources are crucial. A good understanding of the exam board for each subject is useful and appropriate revision guides, notes and online resources must be relevant to the specification being revised. Check the spec before you invest time using particular materials or online programmes to get tips and hints on the exam.

T - Working backwards from each of the external exams being taken in the summer can be a good way to ensure all the elements discussed can be met. When it comes to the 'performance' everyone wants to feel whatever the exam throws at them nothing more could have been done. Everything has been revised and no compromises made.

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