After coming to the sobering conclusion my year 11s had no idea where to start their revision, and judging that their parents were even worse, I decided to create something to solve the problem. The result was two easily understandable strategies, one for parents and one for students. Each fuses good old fashioned hard work with cutting edge metacognition research which students and parents immediately took to and adopted. This is without doubt the most important resource I have ever created and is one I think will have a huge impact not only in your department, but in your school as a whole.
The strategy breaks the process of revision down into three phases. The first phase I call ‘knowledge acquisition’. This is where students use their ‘sources of knowledge’ such as textbooks, revision guides, personal notes and flashcards to acquire the foundational understanding they will need to answer exam questions. The most effective way of learning these key facts and information is through interleaving and spacing decks of flashcards.
The second phase I call ‘knowledge application’. In this phase students apply everything they have learned about a particular topic to multiple sets of past paper questions on the same topic. This process allows students to mould their raw understanding of the topic to fit what the exam board requires them to write for any given question to score full marks. Importantly, this phase also ensures students practise knowledge retrieval which is crucial to success in their exams. The guide also recommends how students structure the day, splitting into hourly cycles consisting of 45 minutes of practice and review, and 15 minutes of rest which repeat through the day. In order for this phase to work effectively, you need to create sets of past paper questions for students to attempt which is organised by each section of the course you are teaching. Exam question banks like ExamPro are perfect for putting these together easily and quickly.
The final phase of my revision strategy is called ‘knowledge demonstration’. Here, students demonstrate everything they have learned and practiced in full past papers which are to be sat in exam conditions, and of course the final public exam itself. My guide emphasises the importance of reflection on performance, positive mentality and effective exam technique.
Whilst this sounds incredibly straightforward when explained in these terms, students, parents and even colleagues struggled to conceptualise revision in a straightforward manner. I really believe this guide has had a significant impact on my students’ confidence, and has been modified for use in other departments, which you can also do in your own schools. Students and parents often comment on how it made revision so much more straightforward, and allowed students to ‘roadmap’ their time.
I hope you will find it as integral to your KS4 teaching as I have!