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The Geography Sited
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Revision - Begin at the beginning

There is good news and bad news when it comes to revision. The good news is that proper revision will lead to much improved results, but the bad news is that you have to work at revision - it doesn't just happen.

We all have a tendency to put it off. We can revise next week, or tomorrow, or worse still, we convince ourselves that we only need to read our notes the night before the exam. After all, if I don't know it by now, I'll never know it!


Teachers, on the other hand, like to think that you will do three things throughout the year that make last minute revision unnecessary. These 'teacher hopes' are...


That you will understand everything they tell you in class. (we know that you won't, but if you don't ask questions we tend to assume that you understand)

That you will go home and read more about the subject (because you love it so much) rather than watch TV, play football or whatever else you actually do.

You will read all your notes each week and revise throughout the course.


Ok, I'm a teacher and I love Geography, but I know that quite a few of my students took Geography because it looked easier than History and better than doing PE! They aren't going to spend hours reading notes and additional books, but they still need to get through the exams. The secret for them, and for you, is to find a reason why it's a good idea to revise, and then make your revision as enjoyable and effective as possible.

If it's enjoyable and you have a clear reason for wanting to do it, you are more likely to get started, stick with it, and get results from it. You don't often go back and do things you already hate, do you,? Likewise, you won't do revision if it seems pointless and you hate it!

So, before we even think about revision plans, a clean bedroom and that stuff, we need to find some motivation. Trust me it's not impossible, even if you don't really like the subject.


What works for each of us is different, but trust me, finding the reason for revising is vital to success. Some common reasons for wanting to revise and pass an exam may include...

  1. I like the subject and I actually want to know more
  2. I need to get a certain grade or number of GCSE's so I can go on to study at A / AS level.
  3. My parents have promised a reward of some sort if I do well
  4. My parents will kill me / ground me if i don't do well
  5. Its expected and my teachers/parents told me to do it.
  6. I don't like the idea of going to work just yet, but if I get the grades I can stay in education for a few more years.

So, right now, start thinking about why you are going to revise. It doesn't matter if its for a reward, or to avoid something bad - the key is to find a reason why you WILL revise.

Once you've got the motivation to revise, you need to think about the things you enjoy doing.

You've probably noticed that when you do the things that you like, time goes faster, you get a buzz and it's fun. If you can make revision even a little bit like something you enjoy, it will be much easier!


So, how do you make revision into something fun?

Well, lets imagine you enjoy playing football. You can take the football theme and apply it to your revision. Here's an example...


Task: Give an example of a ria (flooded river valley) in the UK?

Solution: Plymouth Argyle play in Plymouth - there's a ria in Plymouth Sound.


By associating the information you need to remember with something linked to your interests you gain twice.

Firstly you learn something related to your interests - in this case the name and location of a team.

Secondly, you learn the location of the case study through association with the football info.

In this example you might also remember the fact that Plymouth Argyle are at the rear - or their goalkeeper has a big rear, etc. Its not true of course, but making connections like that really does help you to remember.


Here's another one, for surfers or beach lovers.

Task: What is a rip current?

Solution: It's that feeling of having the sand sucked out sideways from under your feet, and then being swept across the beach while you swim in a straight line towards the shore.

It's not the perfect definition, but if you've ever been surfing or sea swimming, you will know exactly what I am talking about. Associating your experience with the process makes it relevant to you, and thus it becomes more interesting. Now you know WHY you get swept across the beach!


Other ways to link revision to your 'fun activities' might include...

Making flash cards (if you like playing cards)

Using revision puzzles such as crosswords, word searches and anagrams

Making up silly stories or phrases to remember key facts

If you like using your computer, create a database of revision facts using MS Access or a similar program, design your own revision web pages or study sheets, or get some free software to make crosswords, etc. I know a girl who learnt the names and capabilities of weapons used in the second world war by playing Call of Duty as part of her revision! She also found it was interesting to research key battles because she'd 'played' them in the game.

Do a little revision every time you and a friend do something. If you hang out somewhere, agree to each bring one fact about the topic with you every time you meet. It will only take a few moments to learn one fact, it won't make your meeting boring, but if 4 of you meet three times a week, that's 12 key facts each week for almost no effort at all.

Arrange revision sessions with friends - shared revision is always more fun because you can drift off topic a bit and chat as well as revise.

Read books based around what you study. Geographers can choose from hundreds of adventure and exploration accounts, ranging from modern mountaineers through to 18th century explorers. If you've never been up a mountain or been caught in a blizzard / lost on a glacier, you get a much better feel for what it's like by reading an 'adventure' than by reading dry facts in a text book. A text book might say 'a bergschrund is a large crack in the ice at the head of a glacier where it meets a corrie wall' , but a good account from a climbing adventure will tell you what it looks like, what it feels like as you try to cross it, and will allow you to imagine it far more clearly. Get hold of travel brochures for countries you have studied - they are great for the geographical facts like places and climate, and double up as background information for the tourism part of the course. And if you are really lucky, why not plan a holiday as a reward for passing Geography!

Always try to find case studies to which you can relate. For international trade, how about your football or CD player. Where does it come from? Why was it manufactured there rather than somewhere else? How did it get to the UK? Where did you buy it - could you buy it in any shop or just particular shops? How about your family car or motorbike - ask the same questions about where it came from, where the components came from etc. It's going to be far more interesting than just learning facts about bananas and pineapples or Japanese cars in general. If you've actually seen a glacier, a river meander or a power plant, use it as a case study. You've been there and seen it - what more could you ask for! When I did my O'Levels (that's what we did way back then, instead of GCSE's), I used Helvellyn in the Lake District as a corrie case study because I'd been there. I could describe it, right down to the tarn in the corrie base, the roads running along the local valley floors, the cold winds, steep rock faces etc. Remember though, your course may include specific examples which you will need to learn, so use your own case studies to show a wider knowledge and to 'add value' to your answers.


So, to sum up, before you put pen to paper you need to do four things ...


1. Find the motivation to revise

2.List the things you like doing

3.Be creative and find ways to link your revision to the things you enjoy

4. Remember to use your own life and experiences as the basis for case studies


Once you've done 1 and 2, and understood 3 and 4, you are ready to start revising in a reasonably painless and enjoyable way. Good luck!





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May 13, 2006