By Matt Burdett, 14 March 2020
This article is about how to do your revision for Geography in one day.
I promise that the rest of this post will be a supportive, friendly guide to revising Geography in just one day. But before that, as a teacher, I have to be a bit negative about how you’re leaving this to the last minute. Here goes:
If you’re reading this, you’ve either left your revision to the last minute, or you’re thinking about leaving it to the last minute. This is not a good idea. The earlier you start, the more successful your revision will be, especially if you follow my ‘6-point plan to stress-free revision’. If you have more than a day left to revise, check out my suggestions for a three month, one month, and one week revision plan.
Teacher rant over. Let’s get revising!
Most important: think positive
You are your best self, right this minute, right now. You’ve made the positive decision to do some revision for your exam. Well done. I am 100% genuine in saying this: it would be easy to accept failure in tomorrow’s exam, but you are demonstrating the strength to say you are not a failure. You haven’t taken the exam yet, and you can still do well if you use your time effectively. Well done.
While I’m asking you to think positively, I also want you to think about the impact your emotions will have on your sleep, food intake and concentration levels. If you have that bad feeling in your stomach, it can get in the way of keeping you physically ready for the exam. Here are some ideas of how to deal with it:
- Remember; you’re working now. Keep going. You’ve made the right choice today. Good for you!
- Recognise the scale of the task: confront it. And then parcel it up (I’ll show you how to do this below) and deal with it. Accept that parts of the task won’t be finished. It’s ok: the task will not overwhelm you.
- Take regular, short breaks. Avoid watching television or playing computer games.
- When you’ve finished reading this article, turn off your laptop or phone and don’t open it again until tomorrow morning. Nothing urgent will happen.
- Make sure you continue to eat, drink and sleep well. It’s likely that you will feel surprisingly alert when you try to sleep. This is nervousness making your adrenaline pump around your body. Do not get up to do more revision.
- Try some calming strategies. For example, count backwards from 100 in 3s – 100, 97, 94, 91, etc. Think of a happy place where you feel good, and imagine yourself there; use all your senses to experience the place (what do you smell? What do you feel under your feet? Is there wind on your face?).
Second most important: plan your time
Regardless of how you spend your time today, you need to plan it. Write it out on a piece of paper. Block off your time in 30-40 minute chunks, with a 5-10 minute break between each one. Every two or three hours, have a 40 minute break.
Do not watch TV or play computer games at that time. Avoid your phone: you’re only going to discover everyone else panicking about the exam, or preening about how much they’ve done. Try some gentle exercise instead, in the open air if possible.
Third most important: fill in your plan with textbook chapters
Now you have a plan. Use your syllabus to identify the areas about which you are most confident. Ignore them, and revise the second most confident areas. If one paper is worth more percentage than the other, start with that one. If there is an options paper (where you can choose which questions to answer), choose the easiest options first.
This is the one and only occasion when I recommend reading the textbook as the sole revision activity, and even then, you must make notes. Be specific about what notes you will make:
- Good: using headings and subheadings
- Good: definitions
- Good: specific facts about case studies
- Good: patterns and trends over time
- Good: quick diagrams
- Bad: full sentences
- Bad: using a computer to write
- Bad: highlighting
You can probably make notes on ten textbook chapters in a day if you are efficient. Remember: follow your plan.
Fourth most important: go to bed
Your brain will be whizzing around and you think you won’t sleep. And maybe you won’t. But even lying awake is helping your brain to process the information you’ve covered today. This is more effective than staying up to cram even more information into your brain. So, go to bed and stay there for a full eight hours until you need to get up.
I know it’s a horrible feeling, and pretty much everyone has had it at some point. But it will be ok. Do you have any other helpful ideas for revision in one day? Leave a comment below, and good luck with the exam.