How To Revise The Right Way

There are 2 halves to my job as a teacher, to teach and to help a child to remember what I teach.  I can go through a whole GCSE English poetry anthology with a student, but if the child does not have the skills to remember it, then it’s teaching time I have wasted.

how to revise

When faced with upcoming tests and exams, students can get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work.  This task of revising is like asking a student to tidy up a rubbish dump, they don’t know where to start, how to sort it and what to do with after it’s sorted.

So I break down revision into three parts.

Find out what you need to know.

Most school teachers give out “I can” sheets at the beginning of every new topic.  These are just a list of statements which summarise what the student should be able to do by the end of the topic.  Edexcel 1MA0 Linear Exam Topic List – Foundation.

Make Notes

Then take each statement and make sure you have notes and explanations on it. If you don’t, then you need to make your own notes either using school textbooks or revision websites recommended by your teacher. You can also make your own flashcards on websites like QUIZLET.

Do Some Past Paper Questions

Now that you understand the statement, you need to test your understanding.  So collect exam questions or practice questions on the topic WITH ANSWERS.  How will you know if you are doing it right if you can’t check the answers.  Good sources of questions are end of chapter questions in textbooks and worksheets you might have in your books.

This three-step method works for any topic and for any age group.  Try it!

Some good websites for making notes:

BBC BITESIZE – syllabus specific notes on most topics covered in school.  It’s a big site and can be difficult to navigate.  If you have a specific question, for example “how does osmosis work” then search “osmosis bitesize” in google and it will take you to the best page.

MATHSWATCH  – educational videos explaining how to do maths.

WOODLANDS JUNIOR SCHOOL – better for years 1-6, but also useful for older children to recap. The writing is simple and easy to understand.

ENGLISH BIZ – great revision site for GCSE english. I love the way each section has examples of student’s work and professional examples. A good place to start for cntrolled assessments.


MR BRUFF’s YOUTUBE CHANNEL – if you want a different way to revise, try watching youtube videos. Mr Bruff’s videos give excellent tips on how to answer exam questions in GCSE english. He uses real exam questions and goes through the paper one question at a time.

Good websites for exam questions:

KESH MATHS – a great website for exam questions broken down by grade.

MYMATHS – only works if your school has given you a password.

MATHSWATCH – this used to be available on a CD but now most schools have online access. You watch a video where a teacher explains how to do a maths question, then you try a question yourself. If you didn’t understand what you did in class today, watch a video on Mathswatch.

EXAM SYLLABUS WEBSITES – make sure you know which examining board you are studying and then navigate to the syllabus you are following. Download past papers and mark schemes.  the common examing boards are OCR, EDEXCEL and AQA.

“Red Hot Marking” of Children’s Work

“Red hot marking” is the term I use to describe how I mark children’s work.  As a teacher, I believe that children’s work should be marked as soon as it’s done, when it’s “red-hot”.  The children get instant feedback and know that their efforts have not been ignored.  I used to hate it when my work was not marked at school, or when the teacher just used to put random ticks on my work without even reading through it.

You should also bear this in mind if you are a parent and working with your child at home.  Children love to be praised and respond well to encouraging ticks and words during their work.

Try the following strategies:

  1. Mark a child’s work as soon as they have done it.  If there is too much to mark, then at least mark part of it.  Alternatively ask the child to do the first 3 questions out of 10 and mark those before allowing them to continue.

  2. Mark the work in front of the child.  They like to see you put the ticks and comments on, and it also gives you the opportunity to verbally tell the child what they have done right.

  3. Beware of putting in too many crosses in RED INK all over the child’s work.  If when marking a piece of work you find that there are lots of mistakes, it’s better to mark a little bit and speak to the child about it.  Don’t put “SEE ME” at the end of the piece of work.  It put’s the child on edge.

  4. Discuss the good and bad points of the work with the child and set new targets.  Make sure that the child is aware of their targets before and after doing a piece of work.  Having a target, for example accuracy, neatness, creativity, or a specific grammatical point gives a focus to the child.

  5. Sometimes a child can mark their own work, if the task is multiple choice or if it’s maths.  However, this should not be done too often as it doesn’t give you the chance to go over the mistakes.

  6. Always mark homework as soon as it is handed in, and give back to the child during the same lesson or the next lesson.  If you leave too much of a gap between submission of homework and marking of homework, children will forget and the effort on homework almost seems wasted.

  7. If you don’t get time to mark straight away then tell the child why and make a promise that you will mark it as soon as possible.

These strategies accelerate learning and are easy to do.  Do you use any of them?  Which ones work best/are easiest to use?  Or do you have your own technique of marking?