The key to successful exam preparation is to invest in learning from the very beginning of the academic year. Revision is not a word we encourage our young women if they are referring to ‘cramming. If they are using the term revision to signify that they are actively recalling, creating strong links between their short and long-term memory, then we are all for it! Scientific research and experience tells us that an approach to learning that relies on the misguided opinion that cramming until the last minute is not effective, hence we want to debunk the myth that ‘cramming’ or ‘revision’ are worthwhile activities.
We have adopted a spiral curriculum across our school, meaning that our students will be experiencing key skills and learning content that is directly relevant to their GCSE course, whatever year they are in. We understand that GCSEs are terminal, therefore foundation understanding is constantly laid and revisited between Years 7 – 11. Cognitive Scientists such as The Learning Scientists (found at www.learningscientists.org or as authors of the excellent book – ‘Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide’) insist that effective learning involves a number of key ingredients and we have tried to embrace their findings in the learning that takes place inside and outside of the classroom at Plashet School.
‘Revision’ or ‘cramming’ is the first mistake, the second is to be passive with learning. Many students think that staring is the same as learning and spend a considerable amount of time simply staring at their notes. Such activity is almost completely useless and will not help any student learn anything! Students must use active techniques if they are to see the time spent on learning used successfully.
The third mistake is to think that we are capable of multitasking. It is another myth that is not founded in any scientific research. Students must focus on one thing and one thing only. We would advise mobile devices and multimedia distractions are removed when your daughter is studying.
Setting aside time for study is a vital part of effective learning at home, so your daughter needs to ensure she has a realistic schedule of study to support her through her academic year. Family commitments, hobbies, reading and other relaxing pastimes must not be ignored for her study – her wellbeing is paramount. Approaching a regimented plan for study will mean that there are no late nights or last minute panics during periods of assessments, alleviating disharmony in your household. Once designated times have been allocated, your daughter should draw up a list of the key topics that will be studied in the year. As she studies each topic/module, they can be added to her schedule for learning.
The Learning Scientists suggest six principles to adopt and their explanation of each can be found here:All-Color-Posters
For all our girls, getting into the habit of active learning will help maximise exam potential and ensure another generation of young women at Plashet revel in exam success in the future.
Changing the language you use at home around learning will support your daughter’s endeavours. Using spaced practice, recall and dual coding will confirm that she is moving in the right direction. Asking her to elaborate and give you concrete examples of ideas and concepts will also involve you in the process. Talking about learning will be invaluable in recalling new and revisiting existing content. Although, please remember, cramming is no longer part of your family’s vocabulary!