By York Notes Series Consultant, Mike Gould
1. De-clutter your head! Rapid Revision is great for clear thinking.
You’ve studied the poems, play or novel but there’s so much to take in and hold in your head it can seem a bit overwhelming. You need a plan. We’ve provided one for you at the back of your Rapid Revision guide. We’ve divided it into eight chunks.
All you need to do is:
A. Decide what part or parts of the text or exam bother you the most.
B. Jot down when you’re going to revise them.
C. Find the relevant section in your Rapid Revision guide (listed on the plan for you).
D. Crack on with reading the section and doing the tasks.
2. Everyone loves a list. Oh, and numbers help, too.
One of the key features of Rapid Revision is we have loads of really useful lists. For example, ‘Five key things about Romeo’. How can these help? It’s so much easier learning short lists rather than long paragraphs.
A. Read any ‘Five key things’ list.
B. Cover it up.
C. Write down as many as you can remember (the act of writing the list again will help your brain retain the information).
D. Check – how many did you get?
3. Speak out! Flex those vocal chords.
You need to know your character quotations for your literature texts. Here’s a fun way to help you learn those must-have references.
A. Find a character page.
B. Look at the ‘Key quotations’ list (yay – another list!).
C. Say the quotations out loud in the voice of whoever speaks them (this could be the narrator – what might he/she sound like?).
(You could do this seriously – or with funny, exaggerated voices. Work with a friend. It’ll be fun. Really.)
4. Two-page time-out.
You’ve got other subjects to revise, too. But take a break from Maths or Science revision. Nearly all our main units are in two-page spreads so it’s easy to put quantum physics to one side, pick up Rapid Revision and select a theme, character or language area you’re concerned about. It’ll take you 2-3 minutes to read the two pages. (You can do the ‘Now you try’ task another time.)
5. Interview each other.
One of the really useful things about a Rapid Revision book is it has lots of questions. The ones you would want to ask. Better still, you get the answers. Work with a friend and set up your room like an interview studio (make-up, lights, the works… if you really want!).
You – turn to a section/unit you’re not sure about. Pass your Rapid Revision book to your friend.
Your friend – asks you the questions from the section in his or her best chat show interviewer voice: ‘What do we learn about Macbeth at the start of the play?’
Over to you!
6. Mood-board your revision!
Colours, highlighters, post-it style notes, 2B pencils (or these functions on your laptop, phone etc) ALL help key ideas stand out. In our ‘Exam focus’ paragraphs we’ve used colour highlights to show the different skills used. Do the same in your own ‘Now you try!’ paragraphs.
Write the paragraph and then use different colours to highlight key points, the key quotation you used, interpretations and so on.
Teachers rightly stress planning. ‘But I don’t have the time in the exam!’ you say. Well, use our planning sections in the ‘Exam practice’ chapter to check how to do it. THEN, choose one of the many practice questions provided, set a stop-watch on your phone for 5 minutes (max) and PLAN your essay. Then, try reducing the time to 3-4 minutes on another essay.
8. Essays out loud.
We’ve already recommended using interviews and funny voices for quotes. Now the serious stuff. Choose one of the Grade 5 essays from the ‘Exam practice’ chapter and read it out loud. Not bad, huh? Now read the Grade 7+ essay aloud – do you notice the difference in quality? If not, check the highlighted sections and comments. You could write like this – honest!
Sometimes examiners say that students just don’t write enough. Everyone says quality beats quantity, but writing quickly under pressure is a useful skill. Using one of the practice questions, try writing a FULL essay in 20 minutes. How did you get on? (You can check any answers in the back of the guide.) Do this a few times and the actual exam when you have longer will seem like a piece of cake (a tasty chocolate one).
10. Take us for a walk.
This may seem trivial but it’s actually very important. Our Rapid Revision guides are really easy to carry around with you. Moving about, changing scene, stimulates the mind and body. Get out of the house and take your Rapid Revision guide to the park, the café, the beach, the bus stop, the sports centre. Talk to the pigeons about how your revision is going. Read the seagulls some quotes. Stun the sparrows with your ‘Five key points’ knowledge. You get the picture.
You can buy Rapid Revision Guides for AQA GCSE English Literature from www.yorknotes.com, Amazon or your favourite bookstore.
Mike Gould is a former Head of English and Drama and author of over 150 books and other educational resources. He has worked as a lecturer in English and education at Brighton University.