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How to Make Good Revision Notes | A Student Guide

The lead-up to exam season can be a stressful time for many students. Figuring out when, where, and how to revise all the information you've covered throughout the year can feel overwhelming, especially if you haven't started any initial plans for revision.

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Good revision notes are crucial for boosting your confidence in your knowledge, providing you with an organised, clean, and easily accessible resource for the revision process. However, creating effective revision notes can be time-consuming, especially for qualifications like your GCSEs, where you need notes for multiple subjects.

It's never too early to start putting effort into creating a solid set of notes to work from. Take a read through our guide to help you kickstart the initial preparation, ensuring your revision notes are well-planned, well-written, and organised well in advance of the intensive exam season.

1. Make a Revision Plan

To ensure your revision notes are as effective as possible, start with a plan. Create a study schedule that outlines when you need to start making your notes so that they become a valuable revision tool leading up to your exams. Begin by filling in your timetable with exam dates, allowing you to work backwards from the definitive end date. Break down each week into study days for each subject you need to revise and make notes for. Outside of school, experts recommend dedicating an hour per subject per week, gradually increasing as exams draw nearer. Chunk your exams into subjects and topics for a specific, workable timetable. Remember to allocate time for social activities, hobbies, and other commitments to maintain focus, stay committed to your revision plan, and achieve your goals.

For a comprehensive guide on creating an effective study schedule, read our article here.

2. Collate Your Notes

Once your revision plan is in place, gather all your notes for each subject into one central location. Avoid the hassle of sifting through old notebooks by decluttering and consolidating notes from various sources like school textbooks, homework, personal reading, and tutoring. Remove duplicate content and have everything in one accessible place. Whether you prefer handwriting or typing, maintain a consistent format for each topic. This stage may be time-consuming, but having all your information in one place sets the foundation for effective memorisation.

3. Add Detail from Textbooks and Guides

Refer to reliable revision guides and textbooks to ensure comprehensive coverage and fill any knowledge gaps. These recommended resources should align with your syllabus, providing clear explanations at your learning level. Delve deeper into less familiar topics for better understanding. Add any crucial details to your existing revision notes, ensuring clarity and coherence. Avoid mere copying; instead, focus on key statistics, dates, phrases, or explanations. Leverage end-of-topic quizzes in revision books to test your grasp of the material.

4. Establish a Uniform Style

Maintain uniform formatting across different topics and subjects to enhance focus and aid memory recall. Consistent use of colours, fonts, and styles fosters a conducive learning environment. This creative aspect of formatting can provide a welcome break from the monotony.

5. Summarise Everything

Once you've settled on a format, begin summarising your notes for easier reference. This process requires significant time allocation, especially for subjects like GCSEs where you may have numerous topics. Transition from verbatim copying to concise summaries by eliminating non-essential words and using symbols. Opt for topic keywords followed by brief explanations. Reflect on the content's clarity and refine further if needed. This step, while time-intensive, yields a refined set of revision notes for each subject and topic, preparing you for the revision process.

6. Keep Condensing

Maintain active engagement with your notes by continually refining them. Aim to distil long-form notes into shorter, memory-triggering documents containing essential keywords, numbers, equations, and phrases. This process prompts your brain to focus on crucial information. While the ultimate goal is to memorise without reliance on notes, having condensed versions as a reference can serve as a helpful memory aid.

By following these steps, you'll have a well-organised set of revision notes ready for your exams. Remember, the key is to make the material your own through active engagement and condensation.

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Exam season can be stressful. Good revision notes are crucial for confidence and organisation. Start early, make a plan, collate all notes, add detail, establish a style, summarise, and condense continuously.

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