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Creating your GCSE revision schedule – knowing ‘when’

Knowing exactly what you have to do is the starting point. But committing to do it – and seeing it through – is critical to success!

We’ve all been in a situation where time just seems to have disappeared. That one thing you had to do, that you put off. At the start of the day a one hour task could easily be put off. “It’ll only take an hour. I’ve got loads of time. I’ll do it later.”

The problem of later

If you’re children are anything like mine [and me], there is always something considerably more interesting that the revision that they *have* to do. So, come the end of the day and there’s only an hour or so left, there’s no alternative but to sit down and do it. But now they’ll begrudge spending the rest of their ‘free’ time doing it. “It’s so unfair, I’ll spend all night doing it now!”

The solution to this is to understand how studying fits in, relative to everything else. That way that you know in advance what’s allocated to study and what’s for school, socialising, chores, relaxing, etc.

Start with what you can’t do

Working a week at a time, the schedule should start with what you can’t do. What you’re left with is available for study.

  1. Block out the school day. You could do this by putting the lessons in, or simply mark them with a line. Up to you.
  2. Mark out any extracurricular activities. Think about ballet lessons, sports practice and the like. These might be regular or might be a one-off, like a dentist’s appointment. Either way, there’s no studying happening while these are taking place.
  3. Plan for the parties and a social life. Mental well-being is reliant on having a good balance. It is important that young people spend time with their friends. These should be factored into the schedule as the crop up before planning the workload as a clear sign that their social life is significant too.
  4. Allow for downtime. It is vital that the schedule is achievable. So if Saturday lie-ins are a must, mark them out. You can always review how it goes next week. Also, make sure that socialising time is blocked out. Friday after school is a popular one. After a full week of working being able to unwind is important

Deciding what to revise

The remaining empty time slots are fair game for study. That’s not to say that all empty slots are all for revision. Don’t overdo it. What works for one child will not necessarily work for another. Some might want to get a couple of hours done straight from school, others might want a bit of time on the Xbox.

Have a go and see what works best. Then learn and adapt.

Allocating the units from your backlog is easy. But making sure that you have a good spread of subjects can be trickier. Our natural inclination is to focus on the subjects we like/that we are good at. But, of course, it tends to be the subjects that are least favoured that need the most work.

Our sets use distinct colours for each subject. This means that at a glance you will be able to see if you are concentrating too much on one, or not enough on others. Too much green will tell you that you are spending too much time on biology, while no pink text would show you’re avoiding Spanish.

Time to revise

In terms of time to allow for each unit, there is no hard and fast rule. We recommend each unit is worked on for 45-50 in any one hour. That leaves time for checking the phone, getting a drink and so on. Taking regular breaks is so important to prevent fatigue. If you work too long on one thing then it actually becomes counter-productive.

Some students may find that this is enough time to cover their units comfortably. But that would be unlikely across all subjects. Some might fly through their maths units, while another may need twice as much time studying history. This is to be expected. As the you become more and more familiar with it, you will soon predict what might need two sittings, for example.

At the end of the week

Once you’ve been through one cycle its important to clear down the board. Review what’s gone well and what might need to be tweaked for next week. Move items that need a bit more work back into ‘to do’. While the completed units go into ‘done’.

The week ahead is flexible, so review the committed time, the socialising and the all-important lie-ins. This approach will also help to instil a sense of control in the student. It’s a schedule that adapts with their lives. Not a rigid timetable that may not fit and can rapidly become stale.


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