Right. So, the last blog covered how we think long-term and scope out the bigger picture. This blog is going to be about how we micro-organise ourselves.
Step 1: Identify how long you have left
I’m going to imagine right now that I am preparing for my Christmas Mocks. In my school, where I taught, these were always the last two weeks of the Christmas term. In yours, they might be in January, in which case you get to adjust the calculations a bit more in your favour- lucky you!
So, my exams are the last two weeks of term, and we break up on Friday 21st December. So, logically, mocks are going to be the weeks of the 10th Dec and 17th Dec. Cool.
It’s now the week of the 15th October, so I have eight full weeks before they kick off. What should I be doing in this time? Well, fundamentally, the same thing as in the last blog; I should be identifying my areas of priority and writing out long-form notes before then writing it out into short-form flashcards in time for me to cram it the weekend before the mocks start and then on during the mocks period. You may well have textbooks and exercise books you can do this from, but those are pretty old-school. This is why we made Study Rocket for you, because it has everything there for the long-form note taking, and you can print out your long-form notes and your short-form flashcards. Snazzy, right?
Once the mocks start, we follow the same format as for the real thing, using our pre-prepared flashcards on any morning we don’t have an exam to cram for the exam in the afternoon, and doing the same on any afternoon we don’t have an exam for the one the next morning. We can also use each weekend to spend a bit longer cramming the high-priority stuff that needs more time.
Step 2: Identify your priorities
As I said in the last blog, for me the priorities were Science (ALL), Maths and RE. In addition to this, the smaller projects that still take up some time are History, Spanish, and some key dates and quotes for Music and English. The others (Graphics) are practical subjects, and I’m not going to be putting them into the plan because I can’t revise for them. Golden.
Step 3: Identify your opportunities for revision
I have to think about what I can logically manage to do each week. I think Science and RE are too big to fit around my daily school schedule, so I’m going to slot them into my half-term revision slot and just slog through the whole lot that week. Joy!
Right now, in the last week before half-term holidays, I’m going to aim to do an hour a day extra, to keep me ticking over without a) killing my social and actual life and b) getting me behind on imminent homework. I’m going to aim to keep up this extra hour a day next half-term, which will net me 5 extra hours this week and then an extra 5 hours a week in the 6 weeks before exams start (god, next term is a crazy long one.) This is a total of 35 hours of revision before exams even start, and all for doing one extra hour a day on weekdays!
Step 4: Identify your best working time
You need to know when you work best. Some people are morning people, some afternoon people and some evening people. If you’re not sure which you are, it might be worth taking this quick quiz to identify your Chronotype; I did it a couple of years ago and it clarified a lot for me. Basically, there are four Chronotypes which define when in the day is best for you to work, and I’m a Lion. This means I wake up early, and I fall asleep easily (seriously, do not take me to the cinema after 8pm, I will be dead to the world within ten minutes). What it means in real terms, for me, is that my brain shuts down at about 4pm so if I have to do any extra work I always sacrifice a bit of morning sleep, get up an hour earlier, and work then. But you need to know which time of day is most productive for you, because what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, and you have to be laser-focused about making this process as natural as possible for your body clock or you’re going to give up like straight after you start.
So, being massively Liony about it, I’ve decided my revision slot is going to be 6.30-7.30am. To me this is totally fine; I usually wake up early anyway, before my alarm, and just doodle about in the kitchen for ages making breakfast and scrolling through Insta. I don’t feel like I’ll lose out on any of my life if I pick this slot; everyone else is asleep anyway, so it’s not like I could be socialising with my friends or watching TV with my sisters, like I do in the evening.
But you do you; if 3.30-4.30 is best for you, great. Stay at school an extra hour and get it done while your sporty mates are at netball practice. If you are the sporty mate, maybe you want to do it after dinner, so 6.30-7.30pm could be a good shout, and then you can watch some quality TV at 8 or 9 (because we all know that’s when the best TV happens. Unless you have Netflix, which TBH we all do now, and then the best TV happens all day every day.) If you’re a night owl who never goes to bed until 2am (freak freak freak, to a Lion like me), slot it in from 11pm-12am- no matter how much that thought fills me with deep, gaping horror.
Step 5: Decide how your revision cycle works
I’m quite a cut-and-dried person, and I quite like to get my teeth into something and stick to it, so I tend to organise my cycle by the week. Some people might want to do a different subject every day in their revision time, and that’s also totally fine, but I like to feel a task is done and ticked off before moving on to the next, so I tend to go for week-long sprints rather than changing every day. The important thing to know for yourself is which you are; either set yourself tasks by the week or by the day, but try to figure out now which one is best for you (perhaps by trying out both and finding which works) in order that you’re confident in your work style by the time the real thing comes around in the summer.
So, for example, this week I can already feel in my bones is a History week. This means that this week, my hour a day is going to be spent writing my History flashcards. I don’t need to write out the whole textbook for this one, because I mostly understand it, but I do need to know key dates and names and events off by heart, so this can definitely be done in five hours.
Next week is half-term, and thats a Science week. I’m going to be writing out the entire textbook for each science 8 hours a day, hating my life, genuinely wishing the sky would fall in on me, but gritting my teeth in determination that I will GET THIS DONE IF IT KILLS ME. I’ll probably work 10am-6pm each day, with breaks, so that I can go out with my friends in the evenings, and feel like I’m still having a holiday. If they want to do something in the afternoons, well, I’ll just shift the window earlier and do 6am-2pm each day- hey, I’m a Lion, I can take the early starts. And my priority is- and this is very important- not to feel like I’m missing out on my life. Get that revision into a time that means you can still have fun each day; you might do 10am-2pm and 8pm-12am if that’s the kind of person you are, but do not give up on things to do it. You only get to be young once- believe me, I’m feeling that pain hard now- and you can have it all. You just have to be disciplined.
In half-term, I’ll also take an afternoon to record my RE texts and start listening to them when I’m on public transport or getting ready to go out. This will probably be the first Sunday afternoon of half-term. The second weekend of half-term I reckon I’ll take another afternoon to sit down with my mum and get her to start testing me on them, to see where I’m getting good and where I’m massively failing to absorb. I reckon the second Sunday afternoon of half-term. Sundays are a good time to chill with mum, and my little sisters will probably be watching tv or something then and getting depressed about school tomorrow.
This means that by the end of half-term I should have History flashcards, RE recordings and Science long-form notes done ready for the next half term of revision.
Then, week 1 back will be Spanish; I need to write out my Oral and my Writing exam, because they’re pretty predictable, and try and learn as much of them as I can. Won’t take long, but worth spending a week on. Writing exam will be My Daily Routine or My Holiday or My Letter To A Penpal (who genuinely actually has a penal tho) because it always is, so I’m going to be tactical about this and give myself the best chance I can of an easy exam.
Week 2 back will be another Science week- Chemistry, I think. I’m going to intersperse Science weeks in with other stuff because I hate it with a passion and I want to get it done in one horrible blast before taking a week off with something jollier. I’ll be using my 5 hours this week to shorten my notes into flashcards, ready to revise when exam time comes.
Week 3 back will be Maths (aaaaaaaargh). I mean, I am terrible at this subject, and I now have a tutor- lucky me- so it is ongoing, but I do need to spend a week writing out key formulae (ugh) and equations (ugh ugh) onto flashcards, so I know I have something I can revise when exams come around. Like I said before, I know I was incredibly lucky to have access to a tutor, and that’s not something everyone can do. That’s absolutely fine, and shouldn’t be a problem for you, just get a friend to tutor you. It will be worth it, and there is always one massive subject nerd in every class who you can hit up for help. I was the English nerd in my class, so I did a swap with the Maths nerd who struggled with English, and we’d spend two lunchtimes a week going over the stuff we were most confused about- one for her on English and one for me on Maths. Think about it.
Week 4 will be Biology. Bad, but not terrible. Again, writing out notes onto flash cards.
Week 5 will be everything else that needs a bit of brushing up. Music will be facts and dates and names and stuff, not much, can’t really revise it, will do some token work just so I have everything in order for Mocks weeks. English will be key quotes; characters, themes, settings, symbols, that kind of thing. Loving English, I can always come up with some argument about the book, but I do need some evidence to back me up and I’d really rather not scrabble around in the book looking for it in the exam. Even if I can’t remember all of the quotes, I’ll remember some of them, and those are the ones I’ll use. The ones I can almost remember but not quite I’ll paraphrase- exam boards don’t actually need you to know the perfect quote, just to be able to refer to it, so I’ll talk about the time when something happened or the time when someone said something to someone else. As long as I vaguely know what or who those somethings or someones are, I’m fine. So this week I’ll get those down.
(Screw art and graphics.)
Week 6 will be Physics (THE WORST), so 5 hours of turning long notes into short notes again. If these weeks overrun, by the way, and I don’t quite get it done in my 5 weekly hours, I will also slot in weekend hours on occasion. One a day, as usual, just to give me that cushion of an extra 2 hours if the Physics is a monster, as I suspect it will be.
By the end of these eight weeks I’ll have got all my materials prepared, I’ll be at the flashcard stage for every one of my subjects before Mocks start, and I can spend Mocks just cramming and testing myself on the things on those cards. What you do the weekend before mocks massively depends what you have on the Monday, but prioritise that one, and probably Tuesday too. Then you can start cycling in the other subject cramming on the afternoons/mornings off during mocks, and know you have a second weekend in the middle where you can do the same thing.
Hope all of that makes sense!! Good luck getting yourself ready- you’ll smash it!
And as always, if you want to skip all this work, just use Adapt! With Adapt, all you have to do is tell us your subjects/exam boards and any pre-existing commitments, and Adapt will create a perfect revision plan for you. We have teacher-written topic lists that cover your entire syllabus, and we know your exam dates. Beyond that, Adapt updates automatically- if you miss a topic, it simply reschedules it for another day, so you can be sure that you’ll get everything done by exam day without the guilt, stress, or countless hours of planning!
Cover photo by: @study.holmes