Revising for your examinations can be a little stressful. It can be frustrating, a little dull, and often lonely. We all feel like this when working on our own towards assessments which our teachers tell us are of the utmost importance or completely crucial to our lives.
This pressure is not entirely fair. You know that it’s not exactly the most helpful thing in the world and, as you get older, you’ll see that it’s also not actually entirely true.
Below, you’ll find some tips and guidance about how to excel in your revision. But first, let’s try and change the way we think about exam preparation.
Firstly, no matter what happens, it’s not the end of the world. GCSE exams are important, yes, but you needn’t strain yourself or push yourself far too hard in the subjects you are studying. As you’ve probably heard, to study efficiently and effectively is better than working hard.
Secondly, let’s try to cultivate an enjoyment of the subject you are studying. This doesn’t mean that you have to love every bit. But you will find revision much easier if you can appreciate at least some parts of the curriculum. A small proportion is enough. So, sit down and think through the syllabus, and try to recognise a favourite part. Or alternatively, think about something that you enjoy and try to fit it into the framework of the exam – as this will encourage you to revise a little more.
A meander – every geography student’s favourite landform, for some reason.
When it comes to geography – whether human geography or physical geography – you will find that there will be things that do interest you. If you have ever been interested in injustice in the world, you might benefit from delving further into ideas such as the urban environment, globalization and development, and global warming.
If, on the other hand, you have always been someone who likes science – chemistry maybe, or biology – you could spend more time thinking about the ecology or geology parts of your programme.
Geography is interesting and, whilst you may not immediately think so, it is such a broad subject that there must be at least one thing that makes you want to pay closer attention. So, before anything else, find that thing, and let your appreciation of it help with moving you towards your examination and your subsequent achievement. It’s worth taking a moment to do this, as it will help your enthusiasm in the long run.
Once you have thought about what you like, it’s time to get started. And one of the best ways to begin – interactive, enjoyable, and effective in its attempt to get facts to actually stick – is through the internet.
There are hundreds of different resources available and, over your course of revision, you’ll find the ones that suit you best.
BBC’s Bitesize is an institution, having provided students of geography and other subjects with articles, information, and quizzes that are clear, fun, and engaging. Whether it’s cultural geography you are studying or something like hydrology – the fancy term for the study of water – you’ll find all the fundamental facts that you require for your geography course.
A competitor to Bitesize is Revision World, a site that compiles information on every topic in your geography specification. Whilst this site is less interactive in its approach – as it is merely a compilation of texts – the details given are comprehensive. It’s a perfect site for those looking for quick facts and concepts. They cover everything from coastal and river landscape to population, resource management, and tectonic activity.
Finally, for this section, try Internet Geography. This is a website that focuses mainly on physical geography, from coasts and erosion to environmental problems, earthquakes, and ecosystems. Whilst not specifically directed towards your course, it is a great resource for those looking to find information which isn’t immediate, obvious, and which the examiners haven’t necessarily seen a hundred times before.
An incredible geography case study for urbanisation: La Paz, Bolivia.
All geography topics at GCSE will have a relevant case study that you will need to research and know. These are important as they tie the theoretical ideas that you will be taught to the real world in which we live. Whether it’s on the preparation for an outcome of a particular volcano or earthquake, or on the management of space within the boundaries of a city, case studies will make you look at the world outside of your classroom.
How best can you learn these things then? As said above, you should first find a case study that you know or that might be interesting to you. Do you live in a big city that might be interesting to think about in terms of urban geography? Do you remember a particular earthquake – or have you been to a place that experienced one recently? A personal attachment to the case study will make you more interested in the topic!
We have been talking about finding ways to enjoy your studying. For a learner this is key! Yet, we have not mentioned one of the most interesting ways to develop the breadth of your knowledge of the topics you have studied.
This is reading newspapers and magazines. Whilst you might think that only adults read these things, they are super helpful in giving you up-to-date information on every different subject. Try a newspaper like The Guardian or The Times, or a beautiful magazine like National Geographic or Geographical. Just flick through them and see what you find, but we bet that you’ll come across something that both interests you and is relevant to your course.
In terms of taking in geographical knowledge, then, the final important resource that you can use is textbooks, workbooks, and revision books. These will be designed to fit your course – in terms of content and exam structure – and so will make up an important part of the organisation of your revision.
In these books – from CGP, My Revision Notes, and Revise Edexcel, just as examples – will be explained the fundamental concepts for your course – alongside every different requirement of your particular exam board. They are listed here last as people often rely too much on these books, copying by rote the information included and looking nowhere else. This isn’t advised, as it is usually this that makes revision experiences so unpleasant!
As you will see in our article on GCSE geography past papers, an essential part of your revision timetable should be dedicated to these. Whilst people often recoil from them in horror, they are incredibly helpful – and, once finished, they can give you a real sense of satisfaction.
Past papers are great for giving you a sense of the knowledge you have gained during your revision and the areas that you still need to teach yourself. This is essential to keeping track of your progression, and it can be a real reassurance that you can actually do it!
It also helps you nail your exam technique and makes you aware of the pace you need to go at to finish the exam on time. This, as the examiner’s report will make clear, is one of the main problems that a geography pupil might face – so give this your attention too!
If you are still struggling with maybe cartography, reading tables, understanding a particular model, or in another of the key skills you will need for your exam, you can get in touch with a private tutor. These will explain or help to walk you through every conceptual issue that you might be facing, and they are, more often than not, university alumni who are very experienced and knowledgeable in their field.
Superprof is a great place to find such a tutor – for sessions over Skype, or in person, wherever you are.
Once you’ve finished your geography revision, remember to do something relaxing, please.
This, finally, is the most important point of all: during the whole process of revision, make sure that you are well-rested, well-fed, and well-supported by friends and family. Revising is hard and, at the end of the day, you are absolutely entitled to relax and chill out. There is no point working so hard that you fall asleep at your desk!
Remember that revision is not a competition, so seek the help of your friends and family – as they may well have the answers to the questions with which you are struggling.