Thursday, 7 August 2014

A Teenager's Guide to Revising (and Loving It!)

Okay, you caught me red-handed. No half-believable excuses can erase the truth which has just been uncovered to your eyes, like a mask being taken off one's previously disguised face. The truth is hard-hitting and, at first, difficult to digest, but it isn't always so? My palms moist as fear takes control of my sweat glands, the moment of spilling the beans (and the oh-so-juicy truth) has arrived. Great, this going to be absolute hell -

Simply because I love revising. There, I've said it. The words tumbled out of my mouth before my mind could comprehend what I was saying, but it was going to come out in a second or so. And, now that it is out in the open, the truth doesn't seem so bad. Well, knuckling down with some work isn't unlikely to be the cause of criminal activity, is it?

Whether you've experienced it or not (if so, how my heart seethes with jealousy), parents seek pleasure in nagging at us to get on with homework which should've been completed a week ago. Hearing their aggravated tone of voice is annoying still, but we are driven by the bend because of being forced to work hard. As fun-seekers, we teenagers put our hands up if attending a party or hanging out at a cool place is on the cards; having a good time is an unsaid guarantee, isn't it? Enjoying ourselves is a basic right for people of our age because we are young and old enough to be fearless and granted freedom to do (almost) whatever we wish. And, if we had our own way, end-of-year exams and assessments - which, unlike what its title suggests, is an exam in disguise - would cease to exist, whereas parties and fun times would be instated as a full-time duty for all teenagers. What a glorious moment it would be if Parliament passed such a law, but never mind...

For those who have a library of ultra-sharp comebacks and the guts to say them out loud, words tossed towards our parents can ease our irritation as we 'fight' back against their studying ethos. Unlike some teens, my body would quiver like an earthquake at the thought of making smart remarks towards my parents, even if it was to prove a valid point. Personally, I think that using your intelligence for the wrong things is a waste of time - and the ultimate distraction from what needs to be done. Like revising for exams and school work. Yeah, don't even bother telling me - I know how boring that sounds!

However, it doesn't matter whether the truth is as harsh as a cleaver or will eventually bore you to death - it is a truth regardless, and must be accepted! My words are: revision is essential. And, before the questions are tossed in my corner, I will answer them for you!

  1. In order to succeed and gain the greatest results in your exams, revision will provide a comfort blanket and keep your brain active beyond the classroom. If you don't achieve your preferred grades because of not revising, how would you feel? Depressed? Annoyed? Disappointed with yourself? At least you are making an effort to do well by revising - which is the whole point of taking exams! 
  2. Exams are tough whatever age you are, but scare you to death once they become the most defining moments in your education. GCSE fever is rife from April to June, and is to blame for very jittery nerves. But why? By doing well, your future shall have bright prospects and many doors to future success - and countless possibilities - are opened. If you don't pass enough exams, your future plans could be thrown into jeopardy. Good GCSEs will help you enrol in university, find decent employment and have a successful career and, even before you start studying for the courses you intend to take, it doesn't harm you whatsoever to get some revision done!
  3. If you are unsure about something which has been taught at school and need to research it further, revising will help you gain some clarity over what has landed you in a pickle. It saves plenty of awkward questions and irritating glares from your teacher, and one cherry red blush too many from yourself - making your revision worthwhile!
Need I tell you how essential revision is, or will I have to say it all over again? 

Now is time to banish some myths about revision - which, if you choose to listen and follow it, actually prevents you from revising at all! But I think that why so many people believe these myths is that they don't want to revise, and referring to the myth can be accepted as an excuse. Yet when has any excuse been acceptable? Never. Excuses are pointless for everything, let alone for learning purposes! 

Myth: Why bother revising if I have a great memory?
Fact: You might soak words and facts up like a sponge whilst in the classroom, a gift of which many people would love to have (including myself), but it doesn't mean that your memory will be up to scratch come exam season. Most GCSE and A-Level exams take place in the Spring and the work leading up to it can take up to two years to complete. One unit studied at the beginning of the academic year could have slipped from your mind by the time you take an exam; who is to say that you will remember all the things that you will need to know? Unless you have an IQ to rival Einstein, I reckon that revising will do you the world of good, in sense that you will be fully equipped with what might lie ahead. And here's another thing: don't take chances. Only if you have the confidence and the ability to pull it off, and a fuzzy mind will only complicate matters!

Myth: Everybody isn't revising yet it does them no harm. Who is to say that a lack of revision will harm me?
Fact: Remember my reluctance to admit the truth about my love of revision at the beginning? I was reluctant because, as I've experienced at school, kids think that learning is seriously uncool - and confessing to it would be the height of embarrassment! I personally believe that such views are pathetic and allow stupid people to cover up their, um, stupidity by mocking the focused ones, but that is unfortunately playground politics. Like declaring who they've kissed or going out with, people are free to say whatever they like, whether their words are truthful or not. So, they might say that they aren't revising in order to not become the laughing stock, but nobody knows for sure whether it is the truth! 
As for the 'no harm' part, some people are blessed with the ability to succeed without lifting a finger. Or so it seems. Those words are the jealousy within you talking and, as an occasional green-eyed beauty (for I am sulker who pulls sadness off in style), it is normal when stress is a huge weight on your shoulders. Of course it is true that some people don't bother revising yet still get good results - if so, good luck to them! 
But if you are considering to abstain from revision because a lack of it works for others, take a long hard look at yourself. Is following the crowd such a wise idea when your future - and academic prospects - are at stake? We shouldn't fall prey to peer pressure at any time in our lives, yet we ought to know better if exams are involved. 
Nobody can know for sure how your refusal to revise will reflect on your grades until you find out - and there is always the chance that you might not like the truth on that piece of paper. 

Myth: I will have no spare time if I revise. 
Fact: Depending on your dedication to studying, you will have spare time, but less of it if you spend a considerable amount of it revising. Yet, like the many generations before, what do you honestly expect when mega-important exams are on the way?
My idea of spare time is being able to write on my blog, engage in a hobby (e.g. baking, exercising) and relax at home which, unlike some activities, don't take up half an afternoon in my schedule. All of us use our spare time differently, but, if needs must, we might have to reevaluate the most important things in our lives - for, what I stress, a short while. Going to the gym once or twice a week is not only beneficial to your health, but keeps you productive, but is going to see the latest film at the cinema as important as revising? 
Some things might be sacrificed for the sake of taking part in other activities, yet the myth remains untrue: you won't be spending every waking moment in front of a revision guide. But, on top of what you are already studying for, you will learn a precious lesson: time is a gift. Don't waste yours!

More often than not, myths can be slayed and banished with the assistance of common sense, as shown with the above slayings. Although it can be easy to start believing these myths when the truth becomes a struggle to believe, it doesn't help you at all. Myths won't alter what is going to come in the near future - those perilous exams. And, with each second you spend thinking about those myths, precious moments of revision are being lost!

Finally, I've reached the final hurdle: my advice. I might have dished out enough tips to publish a self-help book, yet the ways of an agony aunt-in-training are endless. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I wish you the best of luck in your exams - hopefully some wisdom from a revision-loving teenager might assist you in your most frustrating moments!

Take your time
If the thought of staying up all night to analyze Romeo and Juliet has crossed your mind, ignore it as quickly as it occurred to you. Studies have proven that cramming too much information before taking an exam isn't a useful way of learning, because your brain is not given enough time to allow the facts to sink in. 
Smoothing out your study schedule and processing one topic at a time will let the words truly stick in your mind, whereas reading a whole revision guide in one sitting will be too much to process. If you feel the need to cram because there is not much time left before the exam, let it be a reminder in the future: revise in advance. That way, you can learn at your own pace without the pressure to learn everything becoming too suffocating!

Separate yourself from revision
Contrary to what most teenagers are accustomed to when the most unpleasant spring arrives, separating yourself from revision can really make a difference to not only your attitudes, but potentially to your exam results. Why? While studying in the weeks leading up to exams stresses you out, taking a break here and there renews you with energy and enthusiasm (or perhaps that would be a little too far!) when you do return to revision. Don't force yourself to revise to such an extent that you begrudge every single moment of it; you are compelled to read science notes at every single possibility. And maybe your aggrieved family might sigh with relief - believe me, living with a panicked teenager throws everything up in the air!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Why do your parents nag at you to go to bed on time each evening? They don't moan for no apparent reason, you know; sleep is essential to being in good health, which is an absolute-must when you are pushed to your limits in an exam. Would you feel capable of sitting in a hall full of anxious teenagers for several hours if the sandman hadn't turned up the night before? Not at all. Staying up all night to learn the lines to your drama play might be a bigger priority compared to catching up on your sleep, but there are only so many things you can sacrifice: and sleep definitely isn't one of them. 

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