With exam season about to get into full swing after several years of teacher assessment, it seems a strange question to ask, but stop and ask yourself “Am I revising too much?” Just how much is too much? And how much should you study during the holidays leading up to exams?
Even teachers and tutors are out of practice and are finding this year a shock to the system with revision. Over the past few years, our skills in striking a delicate balance between head in the books and head space need sharpening. In particular, those of you sitting A Levels in 2022 are the first in generations to be sitting exams for the first time at age 18.
Exams are not just about the ability to simply recall key words, but being able to apply then in context; and this is where long term memory techniques are needed! Comitting information to your long term memory requires a combination of repetation of similar topics in small chunks, and a low stress environment.
According to Barnaby Lennon, ICS (Independent School Council) Chairman and former Headmaster of Harrow, students should be revising for 7 hours each day for most of the Easter Holidays. This applies to both gcse and a level students. Whilst I don’t entirely disagree with him (and certainly don’t disagree with his methods), my own approach uses the 10-minute approach that can be applied to any year group.
The 10 minute method is usually applied to the amount of time for homework during a usual term time. But can be easily adapted to plan revision during the holidays full stop new line the system suggests 10 minutes of study for each year of education per day. For example, in year 11 in the UK, you’ve been in formal education for 12 years:
12 x 10 minutes = 120 minutes or 2 hours per night
This means that over 5 days you’ll be studying 2 hours per night or 10 hours per week when also attending school with usual lessons.
Using Barnaby Lennon’s theory, if you continue your 2 hours of homework time throughout the holidays and add the time you would usually be in class (5 hours) then 7 hours makes perfect sense. However, class time also includes group discussion, admin (register, answering questions, other disruptions) so working individually may not actually require quite so long.
Instead, try this equation for working out your revision schedule (even if your exams are looming large, it’s not too late to set a schedule!):
10 Minute Rule (TMR) = (Year Group + 1) x 10 minutes
TMR x 5
Add (2 x Number of Subjects)
Using this, the average Year 11 with eight GCSE subjects could calculate their time in the following way:
TMR = (11 + 1) x 10 = 120 minutes per day (2 hours)
(TMR x 5) + (Subjects x 2)
(2 x 5) + (8 x 2)
10 + 16
= 26 Hours per week during the holidays
5.2 hours each day
But how do I spend that much time studying?!
Breaking down your revision into manageable chunks will help. using the calculation above, you could cover all 8 subjects each day with 40 minutes per subject.
Study for 80 minutes, then build in a 20-minute break. The example below shows how you could divide your eight subjects into smaller, more manageable daily chunks. This is a technique called “time chunking’ that many bloggers and vloggers use to maximise their time:
For the days you want to go out with friends, or just have a little downtime, split the study in two or get started little earlier. Don’t be tempted to remove the breaks though! It’s important to give your brain some time to digest the information – just like you wouldn’t go for a run straight after a meal.
If you’re struggling to set out your study plan, you can always use a timetable templates like my Painlessly Planned Revision planner to help get organised. Just remember to spend more time revising then planning!