Revising during remote learning

You may find that you have to revise for tests, perhaps mock exams, possibly some final exams, while in a remote learning environment. There are two things to remember. Firstly, there are general rules about what constitutes 'good' and 'bad' attempts to revise. Secondly, technology can either be a blessing or a curse.

What makes good revision practice?

The following four videos from The Learning Scientists are as good as anything I've seen for understanding what works for revision in just a few minutes.

There are more videos and techniques available, but these four strategies seem to me to be the key ones. In a nutshell, they says this:

  • Practice retrieving knowledge from memory rather than simply reading through notes (this includes answering exam questions from memory).

  • Space out your revision over a period of time, rather than cramming.

  • Mix up the topics/subjects rather than spend hours on the same topic.

  • Identify and remember examples of abstract concepts to help you understand them.

Remote learning... better or worse for revision?

You might think that remote learning is going to make things harder for revision, and there are some dangers you need to be aware of:

You have so much information available on the internet, you fall into the trap of reading rather than retrieving.

You may find it more difficult to get immediate feedback from your teacher.

You might not be getting enough handwriting practice, yet your exams may be on paper (your hands and wrists need 'exam stamina'!).

That said, remote learning can also provide you with lots of opportunities that you didn't have before:

As well as writing traditional flashcards, you can create online flashcards through tools such as Quizlet. You can share the workload of creating flashcards with your classmates, giving you more time to focus on using them for retrieval practice.

Nothing is stopping you from answering past exam questions. In fact, this should be a staple part of your revision. Remote learning makes it easier for you to:

  • Compare your answers with your peers.

  • Work together as a small group to answer questions.

  • Answer the same question two weeks after you answered it for the first time, and check your progress (this is known as cumulative quizzing/examining).

Now you have the technology to hold video calls and chat with each other, use it to create joint evening/weekend revision sessions where you and your classmates can quiz each other, compare answers to exam questions, and more. Joint revision sessions often break up the monotony of individual revision.

Remote learning won't make or break your success in tests and exams - how you respond to the circumstances will!