Revise your way to success
By Sue Hunter
06 Mar

It’s THAT time of year! Revision and mock exams often seem to dominate life in a very depressing way. But does it have to be like that? Sue Hunter, author of our 11+ Science Revision Guide and Workbooks, shares her top tips on how to revise your way to science exam success.
Let’s start with revision. You need to flex those learning muscles and get your brain in gear before exams and revision is an important part of this. There are lots of ways to approach revision and different strategies appeal to different people. There are however a few rules that apply whatever approach is chosen.

  1. Start early

You will have covered a lot of science in the last few years. Trying to revise all of that at the last minute is a very poor strategy and likely to scramble your poor brain. The best way to make sure that revision is effective is to start early, work steadily and finish early. The last-minute bit should be just a quick refresher and brushing up on the ‘facts’ that have to be at the front of your mind on the day.

  1. Know what you know

Start by establishing what you need to revise. There’s no point in wasting time on things you already know. Begin with any topics that you found difficult or cannot remember clearly. This is where the most difference can be made.

  1. Understanding is more important than learning

If you really understand a science topic, you can usually work things out. If you merely learn ‘facts’, their use is dependent on the right question being asked. The advantage of giving yourself plenty of time is that you can identify areas where your understanding is not great and do something about it. Remember that your teachers are there to help. You could also try to explain it to someone else. This helps you to think things through in a logical fashion and you can trigger the magic ‘lightbulb’ moment for yourself.

  1. Little and often

Divide revision into manageable chunks. Science is quite good in that respect as it naturally falls into recognisable topics. Cover one topic really well then go off and do something completely different. Come back to it later for a quick refresher then sleep on it. What your brain gets up to when you are asleep is amazing! It carries out some pretty brilliant housekeeping and files the important stuff away for future reference so that every day you wake up a little wiser than when you went to sleep.

  1. Learn to speak Sciencish

Don’t forget vocabulary! Every science topic has some special scientific vocabulary associated with it. Use these words – they are the best way to communicate about the topic. Many textbooks and revision guides include a word list or glossary so look out for these and make use of them to help you to develop your science vocabulary.

  1. Do something active

Just reading through notes or a textbook is probably the least effective way of revising. Do something active with the information, such as making a mind map, flash cards, a mnemonic or rhyme or even sketching simple little pictures, because the action makes much stronger links in your brain.

  1. Practice makes perfect

Doing a few practice questions is really useful after a revision session. You can check your learning and also get into the right habits in terms of reading the questions accurately and choosing the right words to use to make your answers really clear. You could make up questions to test yourself after revising a topic, but you may be provided with some practice questions or a workbook to help with this. However, it is important to remember that just ploughing your way through questions is not very useful. Doing a bit of focused revision and then answering questions about the topic to check your understanding and learning is far more profitable.
Remember that, however tedious it seems at the time, effective, active revision is a really important preparation for exams. When you are confident in your knowledge and understanding of a subject, exams are no longer scary because you know you can answer any question that is asked.
Galore Park provide science revision resources to help make revision for your science exams a breeze.
As part of the revision plan for the 11+ Common Entrance exams, we recommend our 3-step revision journey.

  1. Revision Guide

Consolidate revision and learn to understand the question types for all topics which could be tested at the 11+ entrance exam.

11+ science revision guide

  1. Workbooks

Increase confidence with practice of question variations, and apply knowledge learned in the Revision Guides.
11+ science workbook age 8-1011+ science workbook age 9-11


  1. Practice Papers

Perfect exam technique by practising with a variety of exam paper styles under pressure, including ISEB past papers.
11+ science practice papers

Studying for the 13+ science Common Entrance exam? We’ve got you covered for all your revision needs there too, including our Revision Guide, Exam Practice Questions and Exam Practice Answers.
This article is part of a two-part series for British Science Week 2020. In our next article, we’ll be sharing advice on how to be brilliant in the science exam. Sign up to our free eUpdate list to be alerted when the next part is live.

Sue Hunter is author of our 11+ science resources. Learn more about Sue here.

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