With students around Berkshire revising hard over the Easter holidays for exam season, a former UK Memory Champion and teacher at LVS Ascot school has issued advice to those swatting to help them achieve better results.
The advice comes as Year 11 pupils at the school are already celebrating GCSE maths success, having sat their exams early and achieved excellent results. 105 students took the subject early with over a third gaining the equivalent of an A* or A and 88% gaining a C or above equivalent.
James Paterson, Head of Psychology at LVS Ascot and UK Memory Champion in 2016, has urged students preparing for GCSEs and A-Levels this summer to use the following techniques to prepare for their crucial exams:
- Be prepared to fail – failures are the key to eventual success. Do not worry about forgetting something after a few hours, writing a perfect essay in timed conditions at the first attempt, getting practice questions wrong or not immediately hitting target grades. These are all part of the process to get where you need to be.
- Practice, practice, practice. Too many people accept that natural talent determines our successes. You can always improve, and break learning down into smaller chunks via flash cards or quizzes.
- Use mind palaces to recall important information. If you need to remember a list of things, visualise them somewhere you know well, for example your home. Think about each item in a different room, placing a mental image of each in that location, so when you mentally walk through the house you recall the items.
- Look after your body to ensure you are switched on for revising. Stick to a sleep schedule by setting an alarm for bedtime as well as morning, don’t exercise too late, avoid large meals late at night, make your bedroom dark and gadget-free and relax before bed by reading or listening to music.
Basic techniques and more technical revision strategies were discussed in depth with parents at a special talk at the independent all-ability school earlier in April, for those whose children are sitting any GCSE or A-Level exams this year. Mr Paterson helped parents in attendance to untangle good revision techniques from less effective ones, explaining the simple truths about learning and memory that psychology research has uncovered.
The early maths GCSE success can be attributed to LVS Ascot introducing January entry for the subject three years ago, allowing students to focus solely on their maths exam at that time and ease their revision schedule in the spring by giving them more time on other subjects. Drop-in sessions every day from November to January allowed students to hone their skills as teachers put in additional time to help ensure success.