Making a revision timetable is the first step in any exam period. I’m a planner and although this step can be stressful, I actually enjoy it.
First you need to ask yourself these questions:
- How much time do I have?
This is definitely the first question to ask. Later, I will do a longer post on how much time I would recommend, but for the main summer GCSEs and A-levels I would start in the Easter holidays. However, I have known others to wait much later and others who began in February. In the time, include weekends and study-leave – basically from when you begin until when your final exam is. When you know how much time you have and how many days you can dedicate to revision, take a breath. It will look like A LOT, but the more time, the better.
- How many subjects do I need to revise for?
Write down every subject you are studying and, for each subject, the different exams. Each type of exam will require a different form of revision, so while it may be great to schedule “German” as a whole, in fact “German Speaking” and “German Reading” require very different skills and so need to be scheduled differently.
- What topics are in each subject?
This part of the planning can take the longest. You need to go through every subject, either from the exam board websites or by talking to your teacher, and get the specification for each topic. The way you approach this differs for each subject. (There will be a post on specifications in general at a later date.)
For example, I did GCSE Edexcel triple science. In each science, there were three levels. Each level had different modules and each module would have a list of specifications.
Print this list of specifications. If you don’t have one, create your own list of topics, which will be on the exam – even if you think you could recite the topic, still write it down.
Now that you have all the aspects necessary to create your timetable, print off a calendar (or draw one by hand). I like to do monthly calendars.
Write down all the exams and mock exams you have to revise for.
Many teachers say that you should timetable your revision hour by hour, or in 50 minute sessions. I have never found this achievable. Instead, I find it better plan what I will do day by day. Then I can decide on the day, when I want to do the revision.
Write in the topics you are going to revise each day. You can either do one subject per day and several topics from that subject, or you can mix the subjects up. This depends on personal preference.
It can be tricky as you will have a lot of different topics and it will seem very difficult to cram everything into the timetable. You must count the number of topics you have and then schedule them. It involves a lot of juggling and thinking how you will spread everything out and achieve everything, but it is possible.
Be realistic with what you plan on revising everyday. It may be tempting to just write ‘biology’ and think in one day you can revise everything biology-related, however this is simply not the case. You will maybe do one module, or even half a module. You should also write down the type of revision you will be doing for that module. For example, “Core Biology Topic 1 Notes Booklet”.
I normally try to include “catch-up” days for revision periods during holidays. While I try to be realistic with my revision, I always fall behind. This means that a catch-up day allows me to do what I didn’t achieve the other days without getting even further behind.
If you get to a day and you think your revision is too far behind to catch-up, then re-plan. Go back to the start and make a new timetable. You shouldn’t do this too often because otherwise you will just let everything pile up and the new timetable will be a week before the exam with 50 topics to revise. But, don’t let yourself get 3 weeks behind schedule and continue following the original plan – it’s obviously not working.
Below are my GCSE exam timetables, so that you can see how I planned everything.
Making a timetable can take a lot of time and it can be quite complicated to explain, so I hope everything is clear, but feel free to comment any questions below if you’re not sure.
Also look out for my similar posts on how to use specifications.