Advice Hub

June 8, 2011

Revising For Exams

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Written by: Kyle Raffo
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Revision works best when you practise what you’ll be doing in the exam – and that means answering questions. By writing out what you know as exam answers, you’ll be making it easier to remember what you learned in class.

Knowing what you will be examined on

In the exam you’ll be expected to answer questions on the subjects you studied in class. This means you’ll need a full set of notes to revise from. If you missed some classes, your notes may not be complete.

To make sure your notes are up-to-date, check your notes against the subject revision checklist (if you haven’t got one, ask your teacher). If the checklist shows you are missing notes on some subjects, ask your teacher which chapters of the text book you need to read, and make notes to fill in the gaps.

Get hold of past exam papers

You’ll usually start getting copies of old exam paper shortly before you sit the exam. These are an ideal way to practise answering exam questions.

But you don’t have to wait until then to get some practice: most text books have example exam questions.

You can also download practice exam questions, along with answers (known as the mark scheme), from your awarding body’s websites. Awarding bodies are sometimes known as ‘exam boards’. Schools and colleges can choose which of the five recognised GCSE and A Level awarding bodies they use. The three GCSE and A Level awarding bodies based in England are:

  • Edexcel
  • Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts (OCR)
  • Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA)

The exam boards in Wales and Northern Ireland are:

  • Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC)
  • Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)

Have a go – practise doing the exam

Passing exams with top marks means knowing what to write about, and also what to leave out. You don’t have to write down everything you remember, and getting this right needs practice.

Before you start writing, check the number in brackets after each question. This tells you how many points each question is worth. It also gives you a clue to how much you should write.

For example, a three-mark question means you’ll probably have to make three points. A question worth more marks will need a longer, more detailed answer.

You might also find clues in the way exam questions are worded: what exactly is it asking you to do?

Make sure you know when and where you’re taking your exams, and give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Your school or college will usually make the arrangements for you to sit exams. Ask for an exam timetable if you haven’t got one – or check online at the ’examinations timetable’ website.



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