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  • Writer's pictureNicky

Last few weeks of revision

You have taught your classes the full exam board specification over the past couple of years and they have completed their 20 hours of the programming project. Now you have just a few short weeks left to consolidate it all and make sure your students retain as much as feasibly possible before the exams start. How can you use these last few crucial lessons to the best effect?

Student GCSE computer science revision

Running revision lessons

In these last few weeks you must plan what you would like to cover, much as you would with normal teaching and have a clear focus for each lesson, rather than let your students drift aimlessly about.

Start the session by giving each student a copy of the exam specification for that focused area, so they know what they are expected to be familiar with. You can also provide your class with a knowledge organiser about your selected topic or point them towards the correct section in their text books or the location of other resources such as your past PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos etc.

Revision can be a highly personalised process, so encourage your pupils to pick a method that works for them. It’s worth introducing your class to a few different methods as they may find a technique they had not tried before, but if some prefer to highlight text and others want to draw spider diagrams, that’s fine. Some pupils may like to stick to the same technique for every revision session and others may want to mix and match depending on how they are feeling or what they are studying. Give them a set amount of lesson time in which they can revise the topic giving them the freedom to do this in anyway that works for them.

Here are a few revision techniques that work well in a classroom.

Spider diagrams

Have plenty of colourful pencils on hand and some large A3 sheets of paper. Start with a main concept in the centre of the page and make this bright, graphical and colourful. Next, divide the overall subject into sub-headings and spread these around the central point, linking with lines. Next divide each of those branches into twigs. It doesn’t matter how many sub-divisions of twigs your students get as long as the diagram includes labels that make sense and they draw graphics where possible to help boost memory retention.

Highlight and annotate text

computer science GCSE knowledge organiser

This can be useful and is generally quite popular so make sure you have a stock of highlighter pens at the ready and some photocopied pages of a textbook or knowledge organisers that you don’t mind them scribbling on (i.e. not your valuable copies of class text books). If your class has their own text books or AQA or OCR workbooks, encourage them to highlight and annotate in those allowing them to keep all their notes together. Many students find that marking text with highlighter pens or writing in the margins helps them to concentrate, but it can cause problems when pupils don’t know how to highlight effectively.

They should aim to highlight the following:

  • specialised terms

  • a sentence or word that sums up an important idea or an advantage or disadvantage of the technology

  • short examples of how technology is used.

Delete irrelevant text

This can be useful for pupils who are too quick to highlight all the text. Instead of highlighting text they want to keep, ask them to cross out text they think is irrelevant, leaving only the relevant, most important points visible. This can be harder to do as the action of crossing it out makes them really think about if it is necessary as it cannot be undone.

Re-write text

Re-writing text has been shown to help improve memory retention and understanding over passively reading text*. Your pupils should write down the main points, leaving a gap between each of the headings, then they go back and fill in the gaps, summarising the main points in their own words. The exercise is not an attempt to write everything down, just reflect the main themes. Once this has been completed, pupils should try to write a bullet point list from memory, going back and filling in points they may have missed afterwards.

Know it – list it – test it

As an alternative to the re-write text technique above, this technique involves pupils writing down what they already know about a subject first BEFORE reading any of the text. Then, as they read the text, they make a list of any NEW information they are learning. They should then cover that text and try to re-write the original text and new information from memory.

Post-it notes and index cards

You will need a ready supply of post-it notes and index cards for your pupils to use. They can use them to write definitions of key phrases, important points to remember or write short examples. They can be used for look, cover, say, write exercises, to create a spider-diagram or to arranged them into a sequence or groups. Post-it notes also allow pupils to write possible exam questions and stick them in the relevant page of their text books. They can create a set of index cards which include a question on one side and the answer on the back. These can be used to allow family and friends to test them when they are away from the classroom.

Use classroom quiz shows

After the pupils have had a chance to revise the topic you can recap what they have learnt by using a team quiz. These allow students to build on prior knowledge and reinforce concepts which may have been unclear to them, especially if they need to work together to build a complex answer. Familiar TV style quiz formats are popular and can help motivate students to participate.

High five Teacher

Quizzes and gameshows can help reduce test anxiety and have the added advantage of giving you instant feedback about your class’s understanding and gaps in their knowledge. Prizes and celebrations should be used to make the process more enjoyable for the class but be careful to also celebrate the teams which don’t win and help them see their participation was still valued.

Use past papers

Using past papers is crucial and should not be ignored. They give valuable practice on exam technique and