If you examine the graph again in Section 6c- ‘Improving your memory and recall’, you will be reminded of the fact that we all begin to forget what we have learnt almost as soon as we have learnt it. It is only through regular revision that we can commit information to our long-term memories. Remember: Revision work is ongoing
If you think carefully about what has been written so far, you will see that all of it relates closely to the idea of doing effective revision.
The student who:
(i) uses the PCLR method to revise each day’s class work,
(ii) follows the ‘MESSED’ method when making notes of chapters,
(iii) uses tips like linear notes, mind maps, graphic organisers and mnemonics to aid memory recall,
(iv) revises the necessary material before completing written homework, and,
(v) follows the advice about essay writing, will automatically be taking care of much of the work associated with revision.
If you take on board the time management advice and follow your ‘one-week timetable’, your short-term goals will be achieved, and the long-term goals will look after themselves. This is particularly true if you stay in control of completed chapters by fitting revision of these ‘old’ chapters (see below) into your weekly home study timetable. Study sessions during Saturdays and Sundays could be used particularly for this purpose. Try to accept that revision is not just something that takes place a few weeks before the exams start, but that it is a continuous ongoing process which applies to all students whether sitting exams or not.
Revise ‘old’ chapters
When revising ‘old’ chapters you should make sure to read the questions at the end of the chapter beforehand. Find the answers to these questions. If you are in your exam year, you should also read the questions relating to the chapter on the past exam papers. Bear in mind that exams don’t just test your ability to remember information, they also test your ability to answer particular types of questions. For this reason, you must practice writing full answers to questions from past papers. In this way you can work on your depth of answering and timing so that you will not lose marks because of poor exam technique on exam day. Writing full answers can take up a lot of time so you will only be able to do this for some questions. Planning answers to past questions is much faster and almost as effective. Do this by using the ‘brainstorming method’ which will give you a list of ideas and points which you would make if you were writing a full answer. Another useful way of revising for the Junior or Leaving Certificate exams is to study revision books which would allow you to revise far more often and faster than if you were using the textbooks. Remember also that your subject teachers will do vital revision in the last term before the Junior and Leaving Certificate exams. All of the above will help to make your workload much more manageable.
Organising your revision
If you are to approach this revision work in an organised way you must have a plan. The ‘Eight-Week Revision Planner’ (2a and 2b in the appendices) should be used to plan your work and keep a record of your progress. As you can see it covers a period of eight weeks. You should start by making copies of the planner so that it can be used again and again. (pdf 2a covers weeks 1-4 and pdf 2b covers weeks 5-8. Stick them together to create a large A3 size chart). Now fill in your subjects in addition to Irish, English, and Maths. Check a calendar and fill in the relevant dates for each week. The next step is to take each subject and, using the contents page of your textbook, fill in the number of the chapter on the day you intend to revise it. Alternatively fill in the relevant topic which would be more meaningful. Be realistic – if you attempt too much there is a danger that you will fall behind. Remember to maintain balance by paying sufficient attention to all your subjects. Begin to do this planning work, allowing yourself enough time before Week I is due to start. Your completed revision planner could be pinned on the wall beside where you study, alongside your ‘one-week timetable’. The small boxes under each subject heading can be used to tick off each chapter as you complete it. If you stick to your plan you will be able to see at a glance the progress you are making, and this will act as a great morale booster!