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Study Vs Revision

One of the key messages for students to understand when talking about study skills is the difference between study and revision. For many students they see them as the same thing and something that is done before a test or assessment.


Independent Study

At A Level, students should be doing about a hour of independent study for every hour they are in class. So that works out as about 5 hours per week per subject. This is NOT revision and takes place whilst they are still learning the content of the course.

Independent study is not the same as homework. It should be a routine that students get into which consolidates on what is done in class, check understanding and write down any questions they have on what has been covered.

To clarify what independent study could involve here is a useful sheet to help students structure their independent study. This example is question is slightly edited for students of A level Economics:



Revision is what takes place after the teaching is complete, and if the independent study has been done it shouldn’t be too overwhelming or arduous. To help students ensure that their revision is effective, here is a suggested process diagram with some options of activities.



A trigger sheet is a summary of the topic on a single A4 side. It is to act as a memory trigger for the student rather than everything they need to know. There are lots of ways that students can do this, and it really is up to them to do what works for them, the options given are just ideas, but to be a trigger sheet the topic must be contained to a single A4 side. This also shows how well the students know the topics as it is much easier to summarise when you know the topic well.


It is not intended that all sessions are done at the same time and not all topics will need to go through both sessions. This is where prioritisation of topics is important. Many students often think that they have to revise everything to the same level when they don’t, also they tend to revise what they already know, because it makes them feel good. Prioritisation means that they can focus where they need to focus and hopefully not feel so overwhelmed.

The other thing that is important is that the students understand that there must be a 24 hour break between the sessions. This gives the brain time to process the material and make it easier for the students to work out what they know and what they have forgotten.