10 Great Websites for Revision

 

  1. Quizlet (quizlet.com)

This is probably my all time favourite website for revising, particularly for languages, however it could be used for anything. You can find or create your own flashcards and can be tested on the information. They also have an app, which is great for revising on the go.

  1. getrevising (getrevising.co.uk)

Students upload their revision materials for you to use. The quality varies significantly, however often you can find full sets of notes to complement your own. I found this particularly helpful in science.

  1. TES (www.tes.com)

I think this website is aimed at teachers, however there are still great resources for students. It is similar to getrevising in the way that quality varies, but it is still good on the whole.

  1. BBC Bitesize (www.bbc.co.uk/education)

Some people swear by BBC Bitesize. Personally I have never been much of a fan, because often there isn’t as much detail as I would like. However, to get to grips with the basics and for some extra facts in your revision, this is a trustworthy resource.

  1. sparknotes (sparknotes.com) (including No Fear Shakespeare (nfs.sparknotes.com))

Mostly for English Literature, this website has summaries and some good analysis. However, my favourite part of the website is “No Fear Shakespeare” because for someone like me who finds Shakespeare hard to understand, this website has the Shakespeare text and a “translation” into modern language. So helpful!

  1. schmoop (www.schmoop .com)

Similar to sparknotes but some different texts. I like the colloquial style of this site and there’s some good analysis and different perspectives.

  1. johndclare.net

Modern History GCSE students look no further. This website has great information on most of the key events in the modern history syllabus. When I did my GCSE, I incorporated a lot of this information into my notes.

  1. MyMaths (www.mymaths.co.uk)

Such a life saver for maths. A lot of teachers at my school used this and I always found it so helpful. Step by step guides and examples for both GCSE and A-level maths. There are also lots of activities for practice!

  1. mathcentre (www.mathcentre.ac.uk)

I discovered this at A-level and while I prefer mymaths, mathscentre has more examples and alternative methods and explanations.

  1. Languages Online (www.languagesonline.org.uk)

Lots of different language resources. I mainly used this at GCSE.

 

Is your favourite revision website in the list? Comment below if I have missed any out!

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English Literature Revision (with examples from ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘DNA’)

I am only going to discuss prose and play in this post, because revision for poetry can be quite different. There will be examples from the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck and ‘DNA’ by Dennis Kelly because these were the two texts I studied at GCSE.

 

The steps below outline the process of revising for English literature exams. (GO TO STEP 4  TO SEE EXAMPLES FROM ‘OF MICE AND MEN’ AND ‘DNA’)

 

Step 1: Reading the book

  • It is always best to read the book first before reading it in class. It will mean that you have a head start. This is more important (for me) for novels more than plays.
  • The first time you read a book, just read it and get the flow of the story. Don’t worry about analysis until the second time you read it.
  • When reading, try to get background information on the setting of the book – the time period, the culture etc. This will help put the book into perspective and the language will feel much more natural.

 

Step 2: Making notes in class

  • This step will depend on the class and the teacher – how they want you to make notes. I have always found it quite difficult to divide my notebook into characters or sections, so prefer going through the book chronologically. However this is not always the case.
  • Make clear headings when taking notes in class. This will ensure when you go back you can find out your notes. Always include page numbers as well and if possible write down the quote or the beginning of the quote. Use highlighters to make headings standout.
  • If possible, buy your own copy of the book. This means you can highlight the book and you can take notes on specific sections. It is so beneficial because you can make notes in short hand when reading as a class.
  • Write down EVERYTHING. Any opinions you have, any contributions from your classmates and especially anything from your teacher should be written down. Even if you don’t believe in a certain analysis, it may turn out you don’t have another perspective for that quote, so it is vital you note down anything about it. Later on, you can decide whether it is worth learning.
  • Don’t worry about the neatness of class notes. Just put everything on paper and make it standout as much as possible.

 

Step 3: Researching for additional analysis online or in revision guides

  • For most GCSE novels and plays, there are revision guides. They are so useful because they contain viewpoints you might not have considered and they have summaries, meaning when you can’t be bothered to read everything back again, you have an accurate summary.
  • Look for other resources about the novel. Sparknotes is a great start, but there are also loads of students and teachers who upload their notes. Getrevising and TES are good for this, but you can often find access to other school’s websites or teacher’s blogs if you search for long enough. Examples of what I search are “of mice and men George notes pdf” and “character analysis DNA ppt”. I put the file type because I find that downloadable files are more comprehensive, but that is only my preference.

 

Step 4: Transfer class notes and additional research to character profiles

  • This is the bulk of the revision because it involves uniting all the research and making more of your own opinions.
  1. Make a list of all of the characters in the book and any other sections your teacher has highlighted or focused upon (structure of the text, key themes, socio-historic context).
  2. Aim to do one or two profiles a day, because you will run out of steam otherwise. Get all the research and notes you have about the character in front of you and begin typing.
  3. There is no set order. However, I would recommend starting with traits of the character. This will lead to finding quotes supporting their traits, and from there you will find more of their significant moments/quotes. How you will structure your notes depends on the character, because some will have strong traits and development, whereas others will just have a few key moments.
  4. Include quotes and try and use a different colour for quotes, because they will stand out and make the structure of your notes clearer.
  5. Collect as many perspectives of a quote and a character as possible. You don’t know what the questions are going to be, so you need to cover as much of the character as possible. Even if the analysis seems a bit out there, write it down, because often examiners like seeing students think out of the box. It could be the weird and wonderful annotations which get you the A*, instead of the basic, general analysis which every student has.
  6. Make the notes in short hand or write them in paragraph form. Do whatever you feel will make you remember it best. I often mix it up depending on the quote or the character.

 

Here are some examples of my notes from GCSE:

George and Lennie Of Mice and Men Notes

Candy and his dog Of Mice and Men Notes

The Exposition of ‘Of Mice and Men’ Notes

Phil DNA Notes

John Tate DNA Notes

Structure of DNA (Kelly) Notes

  • Apologies if there are spelling errors in the notes or if some of the comments are not clear. They are my personal revision notes, so while they make sense to me, they may not to others. They are also only my opinions and my analysis, thus there will be many more individual perspectives.

 

 

Step 5: Memorize quotes

  • When you have done all of your character profiles, it is important to go through and think about which points are the strongest for each character. Odds are, you are not going to have time to write about every aspect of the character in the exam, so you need to prioritize! You will also not be able to remember 20 quotes per character.
  • Choose the most important quotes and learn those ones perfectly. Then try and learn some extra ones.
  • Often you are allowed the blank text in the exam with you. However, don’t rely on this, because you want to use your time writing instead of searching for the exact quote. You can do it for a few quotes, but not every one.
  • Make sure you still look at the rest of your notes, instead of only the ones you have quotes for. These ideas might be necessary in the exam, and fortunately even if you need the quote as well, you’ll probably have the text to check it.

 

Step 6: Essay practice

  • This step should be done throughout the revision process. However, at the end it is vital you do as much essay practice as possible.
  • I recommend practising ALL the past paper questions and any more you can find online. Give them to your teacher and get them to mark them. It might seem like you are bombarding them with extra essays, but ultimately it is YOUR exam and YOUR future so you need to be as prepared as possible, so do as many as you can.
  • Do the essays under exam conditions as much as possible: blank text, time limits, no notes. It is important your hand gets used to scribbling furiously and that you know how you are going to react under the time pressure.

 

Obviously there are more steps you can add: flashcards, mindmaps with a bubble for each character etc. However, above are the main steps I used.

 

 

Let me know in the comments if the steps and examples were helpful, and whether you want to see more examples of my revision and notes.

 

If you have any questions about these exams or anything I have mentioned, leave me a comment and I’ll reply as soon as possible!

Handwriting VS Typing Notes

One of the most important decisions when revising is whether you will handwrite or type your notes.

Personally, I go for handwriting with a few exceptions. Below are some of the reasons for choosing each technique:

 

HANDWRITING

Best for: long notes (including specification-led notes), mind maps, flash cards, posters, quotes, memorizing anything

  • Focus: I can type quite fast and often the words I type don’t sink in, but when I’m handwriting I take more time and so think about what I am actually writing.
  • In the exam, you will be handwriting. This means you might as well get used to putting pen to paper for hours on end. Prepare yourself for those hand cramps!
  • Coloured pens: This really needs no explanation but if you’re typing, there’s no excuse for buying a new set of beautiful fineliners.
  • Drawing is much easier done by hand: I also think if you copy and paste an image from the internet, you probably won’t remember it, but if you have to draw it and have to connect all the arrows, the irritation will probably lead you to remember it much better.
  • It removes additional distraction: I often do have my computer open because of extra research or explanations, but there’s something about just having to focus on my topic, rather than the fact that a new email has just come in, which makes handwriting easier to focus with.

 

TYPING

Best for: speaking exams, last-minute revision, summaries, using quotes in revision

  • You can correct things neatly: For speaking exams, I am always changing how I want to say things or teachers are correcting my grammar, so it is really important to be able to correct my mistakes in a way which is clear, rather than crossing everything out and rewriting.
  • Clarity: This extends from above, but when you are giving a presentation with note-cards (e.g in English orals), you don’t want to be trying to figure out what you scribbled in the margin; you want everything to be clear.
  • Showing emphasis: I often bold or increase the font size of aspects of a speech I want to emphasise, so that when I’m practising or during the actual presentation, it is obvious where my emphasis will be.
  • Quotes in your notes: For my English Literature exams, I have always typed up character profiles and theme notes, because when using quotes in my notes I prefer typing. I also think in literature, new ideas are coming all the time, so it is good to type because you can go back and edit your annotations and comments if inspiration hits later.
  • Speed: Typing is much quicker so if you want to summarise a lot of information, make a last-minute timeline in history or just revise everything within the course of a few hours, I would go with whatever option is quicker. For me, this is typing. It also gives your hand a break if you are revising the night before an exam.

 

Which option do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.