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Study Skills
Study SkillsEnglish

Study Skills offers tips on how to revise and cope with course work

General skills
Good environment to work in
Reading skills
Writing skills
Exam skills
Exam reading tasks
Exam writing tasks

1. General skills
  • Use your time sensibly
  • Plan your work day by day so that you know exactly what is required to do in the period leading up the exams
  • Make a revision timetable and keep to it. A good example can be found at:
  • Do manageable amounts of revision. Trying to do too much in one go will only dishearten you
  • Give yourself a daily target. Aim to complete a certain amount of work, with a clear finishing point to it
  • Have breaks in your revision. Give yourself 5 minutes every twenty minutes. Take at least 30 minutes rest after each hour of work and don't do too much
  • Get plenty of sleep and don't stay up too late. A fresh mind in an English exam is far better than a dull one
  • Use 'dead time', when you are waiting for someone or travelling on public transport to learn things you need to know. Use cards to help
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2. Good environment to work in
  • Avoid television, and other distractions. You need to be honest with yourself and, if something is a distraction, keep away from it when you revise
  • Find a space where you can work comfortably, which means not feeling bothered or irritated by what is around you.
  • Find space to spread books out. In English, you may need to have a few books open at the same time.
  • If you need to use:, don't wander off into other sites for fun. Use your time on the internet sensibly.
  • Use libraries and other study areas. Libraries can focus the mind, but don't go there with too many friends, as you might just enjoy yourself too much.
  • Tell other people you are revising. This is a good idea as you are taking a mature approach and saying to people, 'Back off! I've got work to do!'
  • Listening to as much as possible, a widely as possible. For example, the news, discussions, radio 'talk' shows, TV documentaries.
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3. Reading Skills

For most of us English is around us at all times, so make the most of it by reading as much as possible, and as widely as possible. For example: novels, non-fiction books, poetry, newspapers, websites, and magazines.
  • For most of us English is around us at all times, so make the most of it by reading as much as possible, and as widely as possible. For example: novels, non-fiction books, poetry, newspapers, websites, and magazines.
  • Learn to read with focus and concentration by re-reading a paragraph and asking yourself to write down exactly what is in it.
  • Look at the way writers use language to create effects for readers.
  • Try to think about words, phrases or sentences that are particularly important in the text.
  • For unseen passages in media and non-fiction, think about the audience that the writer has in mind.
  • For unseen passages in media and non-fiction, think about the purpose of what is written.
  • In the reading of poetry, pay attention to the meaning first of all.
  • If you identify a poetic device (such as simile, onomatopoeia or alliteration) be prepared to provide a reason for why it is used.
  • For literature, re-read all your set texts completely before the examination. The best answers come from a confident understanding of the texts.
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4. Writing Skills
  • Plan effectively, using a technique that you are familiar and comfortable with. A plan need not be too long. Its purpose is to help you to write what you are supposed to.
  • Use Standard English. It can often be a big gamble to use language that is too informal or colloquial.
  • Organise your paragraphs so that each paragraph flows into the next one.
  • Vary your sentences in terms of sentence length and type. Ask a question, make an exclamation. Use connector words to link sentences together.
  • If you're not sure of a spelling think of a different word or re-phrase the sentence.
  • Check over what you have written to eliminate silly mistakes.
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5. Exam Skills
  • Approach exams in a very sensible way by seeing them as tasks that have to be done. Take a deep breath before you enter the exam room and follow all the instructions, in particular, those on the exam paper itself.
  • Read the paper through first of all to see what questions you need to answer. Use the time allocated in the examination properly. Work out how much time each question should have, based on the marks it is given.
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6. Exam Reading Tasks
  • Don't spend too long on the reading tasks, leaving yourself only minutes to do the writing task.
  • Don't rush into your answers. With the reading task, get to know the passages/poems/texts well enough. Read them at least twice.
  • Use a highlighter to help you with the unseen passages, so you can quickly identify parts of the passage you might want to refer to.
  • Don't use over-long quotation in your answer. A word or phrase is often sufficient and extensive copying will simply get in the way of achieving a good mark.
  • Don't simply identify features (especially poetry) without providing some comment on why they are effective.
7. Exam Writing Tasks
  • Plan what you need to write about, but don't spend too long on this. Planning is there to enable you to write well, not as a replacement for it.
  • Make sure you understand the purpose of what you are writing and the audience it is aimed at.
  • Write in Standard English unless advised otherwise. Make sure you use clearly identified paragraphs in the writing tasks.
  • Get the basics right: sentences, full stops and capital letters are vitally important.
  • Go back over what you have written and eliminate simple errors. This can lift your overall achievement.
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BBC Schools revision site
Test bites, quick quizzes and games to reinforce how much you know

BBC Onion Street
Community website: talk to people to own age, and get advice on revision technique and dealing with school stress

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