How is it that time already!! With a whirlwind new spec approaching the finish line, impending final exams and just not enough time to feel in control, it all feels a little too much!
I receive a lot of emails asking for advice and help with revision. In short there is no quick fix or easy answer. Revision is hard work and takes a long time. I often describe revising like going to the gym (it’s about as fun!!), you need to go to the gym consistently, regularly and with a healthy approach, in order to change your physical fitness. This is exactly the same for your brain, you need to revise regularly and consistently and follow a healthy approach – regular breaks, plenty of sleep, no distractions etc.
So here is some advice that might help:
What to revise?:
This might seem a really silly question but the answer of all 32 topics is just so daunting it needs to be broken down into more manageable chunks:
- Learning key words
- Answering short content based questions
- Planning potential essay answers (e.g. “An argument based on reason is more reliable than an argument based on senses.” Discuss or ‘Critically compare Plato’s Form of the Good and Aristotle’s Prime Mover’ or “Evolution logically explains design without the need of God.” Discuss)
- Making textbook/ wider reading notes
- Analyzing the spec requirements
These cover all the main elements needed. If students know their key words and spec requirements = C grade, if they can plan potential answers this will help ease the pressure off the exam and if they do a little wider reading this will support higher grades.
Where to start my revision?:
On A3 paper (do a separate sheet for Philosophy, Ethics and DCT) – fold into 3 columns and label: Good to go I know, Sort of know, Panic: No clue.
Using OCR spec requirements found on the OCR website (or in Revision Packs under ‘Must Learn Information’ – purchased below) write each bullet point on a post it note and stick it in the relevant column. This will show you where to start your revision.
Then using text books, research and write notes in ‘Text Book Notes’ section (Revision Packs) starting with ‘Panic: No clue’ areas.
Revision Activities and Ideas:
Why not try?:
- Scrabble Quiz: Good for testing recall of key words, names, books etc. (pick a random letter and write as many words covered so far in that unit – e.g Philosophy starting with that letter. Note: it works excellently in groups.
- Content check: test your recall of key information by asking a friend or parent to test you on your class notes (or power points).
- Study the Mark Schemes: Familiarise yourself with the examiners words and their expectations
- Re-draft any old essays based on feedback given and MS
- Five Paragraph Planning: Create a table (similar to this one). Plan 3-5 paragraph themes for each topic (which cover all the main elements covered in the topic). This will create the structure for your exam answers that can be adapted towards the question. Note: It is always hard when you first see your exam questions. This will help you remember the key elements that you can then adapt to the specific question asked. Don’t forget – one size does not fit all (in other words: one essay structure does not work for all essay questions!)
- Write lots of Essay Plans: Answering the following as part of your plans:
- What quote would you use in the introduction to catch the examiners attention/ engage with the topic area?
- Which key names/ arguments will you use?
- How will you link these points to the question?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each name/ argument?
- How will you further criticise/ support/ defend against this initial evaluation?
- You need to still justify whether the philosopher/ argument is strong/ weak, convincing/ not convincing, logical/ illogical etc. – so decide your perspective before you start to plan!
For more support with your revision, why not check out: AS Philosophy Revision Podcasts, How to Improve your Essay Technique: A-Level DCT Mock Exam, Examiner’s Report 2016: What can we learn? and “Oh no I need to revise!” Top Revision Tips
Also check out my 6 Tips to watch out for in your exam covering essay writing, timings and evaluation:
Content Checking Extras:
This 20 page pack for first year Philosophy contains a quiz with C Grade Minimum questions and a separate quiz with Higher-level questions. There are also worksheets to test:
- Teleo, Cosmo, Onto arguments with all the main elements of each topic all jumbled up. Your aim is to highlight which ones belong to which topic.
- Augustine, Irenaeus and John Hick’s arguments with all the main elements of each argument all jumbled up. Your aim is to highlight which ones belong to which person/ approach.
- Religious Experience story themes. Link the different themes to the relevant story e.g Born in France – St Bernadette.This pack can be downloaded (for a small cost) by clicking on the image below:
Revision Guides (for a review of these guides go to Revision Guides: Which ones are worth your money?):