Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A sudden burst of motivation

Well, mocks are over. Our exams are condensed into one week, making for an intense period involving 8 exams for me (I'll have 9 in the summer, including one retake). I actually feel like, this time, I revised harder than I've ever done before for any exam session, and it reflected well in my results! The idea that the end is in sight is finally beginning to dawn on me, and as such revision doesn't seem like such a drag any more. You're working towards a goal at A2, whereas for AS it seems a little bit more confused and laid-bank as if you're just 'banking' points - which you are, but I'd argue AS matters just as much as A2, if not more, as for most people it's the only thing the unis have for you as a concrete achievement.

Way back in the heady days of Year 10, I remember that I'd made a timetable to structure my revision. That wasn't something I'd ever done since as I doubted my ability to stick with it. AS revision involved bursts of hard work where I'd set myself targets of pages to cover in the space of an hour, and if I met those targets, I'd get the rest of the hour off. Looking back on it, it was quite a stressful and ineffective revision method, because I'd just focus on getting through the pages quickly, rather than understanding them.

This time, as we broke up for half term, I had my usual first weekend laze around, and I felt vaguely guilty as I recognised the signs - I'd bargain with myself, "I'll start revision tomorrow," "I can wait till the day after," "Day after that should be fine," and then I'd find myself with one day to go, knowing nothing. However, on Monday, I told myself to get a grip and I actually sat down and made a timetable on Excel. This can actually be sort of enjoyable - mine was colour-coded by subject, and I decided to organise revision in blocks - one hour studying, one hour relaxing, repeated. Starting revision early means you can give yourself these breaks and I can tell now that it's way less mentally draining. I also didn't set myself targets for pages, I just made sure I used the time well. As we're beginning to reach the end of the syllabuses in most subjects it was sort of nice to sometimes get the dawning realisation that yeah, we might just understand some of it.

So, mocks happened, and then I got my retake result last week, which I was very pleased with. Interestingly it felt like I probably did the same number of hours of revision for the retake as for the real exam, I just spent it in a different way - reading rather than writing. I think I can say, optimistically, that for the first time I know a personal revision method that actually works, after 8 years of entrance exams, end of year exams, and finally public exams. Just in time for the summer!

If you have any comments, or questions, drop me a comment and I'll get back to you!



  1. Hi, I'm called emma too haha and I'm currently revising for my philosophy a2 mocks but I'm finding it so stressful as there is just too much to remember! Is there any advice you can give me on how best to revise philosophy?:(

    1. Hey! Woo awesome name ;D Yep it's pretty stressful, what topics are you studying for Philosophy? We're doing Morality and Philosophy of Mind as well as Plato's The Republic. I find Philosophy the hardest to revise for, I agree. Try just reading the textbook again and again if you get some spare time, as well as maybe making notes on themes. Maybe also have a look at past questions and their mark schemes, maybe do some practice papers nearer the time too. Good luck! :D