GCSE revision advice from a (complete and utter) amateur

GCSEs are really not a fun time for most people, myself included, and while I could sit here and tell you from my high horse/ actually strangely close to the ground bed, lots of very intense revision tips about sticking to a very tight schedule and being up and in the library for 9am, I would be a hypocrite. So, that being said, I intend to share some revision tips for the not morning, easily stressed out, like-minded people, mixed in with some relaxation and better sleep advice.

  1. Try lots of different methods- There is not one way that works for everyone, if you’ve found a way that works by all means stick to it but if you’re still not sure, try a few different ways. For some people, watching YouTube videos on the topic you’re revising is actually really helpful. There are more GCSE YouTube videos and channels than I had ever realised, they are everywhere and they could be a really big help. Some of my friends record them saying their notes and listen to them on the bus or before bed or walking home, whenever really and my favourite part about this is that people will walk past you (I mean probably not in your house but you know) and have no idea that you are talking to yourself through your earphones. But don’t forget, that the less exciting but ultimately nicely simple method of revision cards and note-taking is what works for some people and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
  2. Breaks- Take them. This is very easy, just do not reach a point where your brain feels like mush and you can’t take any more information in because if you did you would explode. Watch a bit of TV in between, facetime someone for a few minutes, read a book, anything that will relax you and rest your brain for a few minutes.
  3. Schedules- Some people love them, some people hate them. Personally, I find it useful to make them but I do not feel need to really tightly stick to it. It’s useful to see how much work you need to do, roughly how long it will take and how much you should be doing in a day, but there is no point stressing over it. Allow for a margin of freedom with it. Maybe have it so there are a couple of weeks before your exam that you haven’t scheduled so that if you need to fill it with extra work for a subject you can.
  4. Libraries- They are not essential but for the easily distracted mind, they are definitely handy. I’ve been trying to go a few times a week during the holidays and what I’ve found is that it is very hard for me to get up before it gets full. So I just really reward myself for getting out the house before 9; I buy myself a coffee, a nice lunch, sugary food to try and make myself associate the library and getting up with good things. It’s working a bit but there is a lazy alternative. There are two times a day in which there are seats in a busy library, at least in my experience, and that is as soon as it opens and at around 5pm because people tend to stay 10am-5pm and 5pm- some really late hour. Catch them in the switch over and you’ll have a seat.
  5. My dear friend Aeroplane Mode- I am, to put it directly, addicted to my phone. I have tried most things e.g. those apps that tell you how long you’ve spent on your phone that day to strike a deep rooted existential crisis within you, didn’t work. The only thing that works for me is to take my phone, put it on aeroplane mode and then put it in a draw on the other side of my room. This does help, because seeing the notifications appearing on your phone every 10 seconds is a self-control test for even the most motivated of us.
  6. Smells- It is not a well-hidden fact that I am a massive stress head; my entire family are acutely aware of it. So, before my GCSE’s started, my mum bought me an oil diffuser and it is my favourite thing in the world. Basically, what it does is fill my room with the smell of these really calming oils like rosemary, lavender, and frankincense. Half of my revision time is spent making weird concoctions of oils for my diffuser before I start. The lavender is particularly useful for filling your room with before you sleep and if you’re feeling a cold coming on, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil is honestly a great idea.
  7. Comedies- No one can revise all day, nor is it going to be any use to you to do so. In those breaks between revision, you might be craving Netflix or TV in any form. But, it is so easy to get hooked on a drama; they lend themselves to addicted binging of season after season. While, I love a good drama, a comedy is usually the way to go when you’re supposed to be revising for a couple of months. They’re light hearted and most of them don’t completely take over your every waking thought; it’s a good way to cheer yourself up and boost your mood. But, if you do start spending more time watching more TV than you do revising, it may be *cries a little* time to cut it out entirely.
  8. Changing your sleep schedule- As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am not the best at going to sleep but, to focus for exams and revision, you really need to be getting a good amount of hours. The recommended minimum for 16 year olds, is (according to a 2013 BBC article) 9 hours. I find the best way to start getting your sleeping schedule closer to this is to go to bed a little earlier each night. I’m in the process of achieving this and I’m getting there, I’ve going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and I’m aiming for 10pm by the time my exams start, but we’ll see how that goes.
  9. Head massages- Linking to my stress-head ways, I do get stress headaches and as I don’t want to be taking painkillers every day for the next 2 months, I’ve been finding other solutions. Short of chopping my head off, head massages appear to work pretty well. I pretty much rope anyone into being my masseur: my mum mostly, but also my little sister, my best friend, anyone can give an amateur head massage. Here’s where I would give some advice as to how to give a head massage but I don’t want to risk being sued for giving really poor advice and leading to injury. So concludes this bullet point.

There you have my list of exam related tips, I wish whoever is reading this really good luck in your GCSEs or whatever exam you’re sitting or if you’re not sitting any exams then I just wish you a good day. I said good day! (Sorry that was my very poor attempt at referencing that 70’s show, one I really recommend as a revision period comedy actually).