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The best way to revise for exams - according to the experts

Sarah Mintey, founding director and chief executive of Norwich-based education tech company Developing Experts, says

Sarah Mintey, founding director and chief executive of Norwich-based education tech company Developing Experts, says "practise practise practise" is the best way to revise. Picture: ARCHANT

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For children across Norfolk it's exam time: when the invigilators are called into action, school halls are repurposed and pupils pour over years' worth of notes and textbooks to refresh and refill their brains with information ahead of the big day.

A study by Seneca Learning last year found 30pc of GCSE students did 75pc of their revision for a subject the day before the exam. The company is trialling an online revision platform at schools in Norwich. Picture: ARCHANTA study by Seneca Learning last year found 30pc of GCSE students did 75pc of their revision for a subject the day before the exam. The company is trialling an online revision platform at schools in Norwich. Picture: ARCHANT

But what is the most effective way to revise and recall what has been learned?

The technological approach

A company who thinks it may have the answer is trialling its new online revision platform in Norfolk.

Seneca Learning is informed by neuroscience research into memory and information retention and sets short homework tasks across a range of GCSE, A-level and key stage three subjects and exam boards.

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form and Notre Dame High School in Norwich have been among the first in the country to test the new resource to help students prepare for their exams this summer.

Dr Flavia Belham, chief scientist at Seneca Learning, said: "Our study tested 1,120 students showing that pupils using engaging revision technology memorised topics 63pc better than when using traditional revision guides."

The study last year also asked students who sat their GCSEs in 2018 when they started revising.

It revealed that there was little forward planning: 30pc of students did more than 75pc of their revision for a subject the day before the exam, and almost 20pc didn't start revising until the week before the exam.

Could flash cards become a thing of the past as digital revision platforms grow in popularity? Picture: ARCHANTCould flash cards become a thing of the past as digital revision platforms grow in popularity? Picture: ARCHANT

Dr Belham said: "The most important takeaway is to plan and prepare for the next few weeks. Now is the time to implement good habits that will lead to your child peaking at the right time.

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"Revision is not all about volume. More is not always better. Most important is a solid strategy of regular revision without overloading your brain."

Dr Belham's top revision tip? Try to avoid cramming, revise a little bit every day and make use of revision platforms as well as books.

READ MORE: Can you answer these GCSE questions designed for 16-year-olds?

'Practise, practise, practise'

Sarah Mintey is the founder and chief executive of Developing Experts, a Norwich-based education technology company which designs science lesson plans and resources for teachers to use in the classroom and which pupils can access at home.

She said going over content soon after it was covered in class was key to combating the "forgetting curve" - according to which, 70pc of what has been learned will be lost if it's not revisited within six days.

"But at the end of the day, there are no short cuts, it is just practice, practise, practise until the information you need to learn sticks," she said.

Ms Mintey said parents still play a big role in helping with revision.

A poll of more than 27,000 parents around the world last year found that about 10pc of UK mothers and fathers now spend at least an hour a day helping their children with school work. The poll by the Varkey Foundation found the average amount of time British parents spent helping with homework was 3.6 hours a week.

Private tutoring companies are also growing in popularity, with some 40,000 homes in London alone now using their services.

Ms Mintey said children still received help as they got older - but that deprivation could play a part in the amount of help offered.

A study from the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) reveals that just half (50pc) of the most disadvantaged 15-year-olds said their parents regularly helped with their homework, compared to 68pc of their better-off classmates.

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