Exam Revision

Revision strategies:

Always have a timetable: Plan when you will need to start revising. Consider this; there are, depending how you count, 15 separate topics within the Higher coure. They are as follows: Lithosphere (coasts, limestone and glaciation + mass movements), Atmosphere, Biosphere, Hydrosphere, Population, Urban, Rural (extensive, intensive and shifting), Industry and 2 paper paper two topics - I deal with Rural Land Degredation and Development and Health. If you revised an hour per topic per week you'd have to start revising 4 months in advance. Even then, you'd only revise each topic once in that time!

I'm going to show you some techniques that will allow you to make better use of your time. There are loads and loads of different revision stategies out there. They are outlined in a table at the bottom of the page. Instead I'd rather focus your attention on some alternative strategies:

Check the mark scheme: SQA mark schemes are available free on the SQA website, as are the question papers. Examiners will be scanning your answers for key words or phrases that gain marks.

Chunk your time: You may be able to concentrate for longer periods than myself, however I find about 30 minutes at a time to be long enough before I need a break. In that 30 minutes try to 'chunk' your time. Spend no longer than 10 minutes on a task. For example:

5 minutes: Write out a mind map or list of the key features of a corrie explanation

5 minutes: Memorise the mind map or list be resorting the information; a list or table for example.

10 minutes: Answer question without notes and to time.

Then take a 5 minute break - not for a cup of tea or a biscuit but a 'down time' revision task. For example: try repeatedly drawing out the diagram to a corrie until you can do it with your eyes closed. Then try doing the same but also putting the arrows for each label in the correct location.

5 minutes: Choose another question and revise this in any way you please to prepare for your next 30 mins of Geogaphy revision.

Treating your revision like a work out in this way helps to make good use of your time. Simply copying out notes or reading them over for an hour is not enough; don't slack, make good use of the hour, keep the work intensity high to train for the exam.

Doing Past Papers

This really has to be done to time. Gradually you should try to extend the length of time you can concentrate for by doing multiple questions in a row. Slowly build up to completing whole papers, as if you were training for a marathon.

My Exam

This set of pictures show you an exam (the 2007 paper randomly selected by a colleague) I've completed in exam conditions. I gave myself a two week period to prepare. This has been a interesting process as I gained an insight into what the work load of revision is like. It is useful to see how it has been marked; though when marking SQA papers comments are not allowed I asked my markers to add 'teacher style' comments to identify where I have gone wrong and how my own performance can be improved upon. This has been marked by two SQA markers; their annotations come from over 50+ combined years of experience in teaching and marking the subject. Getting your own work marked is a great idea however it's only ever really valuable if you do all practise to time in exam conditions.

My Conclusions:

Note that I have not scored 100% - the first thing to take from this is that you don't need 100% to get an A. Box clever and focus revision on questions that typically get higher mark allocations or are more commonplace. I didn't manage to finish the exam and as you can see, my hand writing is terrible by the end of the exam. I'd suggest building up to completing a whole paper to time progressively as I found my concentration was flagging by 70 minutes in. You need to be aware that you'll complete your exam on unlined paper. Pay particular attention to the different methods of laying out diagram answers as this I had to adapt on the hoof as I rapidly realised how impractical the method I taught was to do at speed - I now teach it quite differently. You need to move a little faster than a mark per minute but to have time to check work you'll need to go faster. If you do have time left over then have a specific hit list of things you are going to check for as randomly diving in to 'checking your work' means you don't know where to start. Perhaps focus on checking grid references? Or, check physical features are supported with a diagram? I'll add more conclusions as they filter through from this thoroughly useful experience.


In this section you can download podcast audio-lessons. Each is only 2 minutes long and a good way to refresh your memory. Many people learn better by listening.