As usually happens at this time of year, school holidays are quickly approaching. Holidays are a great time to take a step back from the demands of the school term and relax, but they’re also a good chance to take a little extra time to make sure you’re on top of all of your school work from the past term.
Taking a little bit of time during the holidays to refresh your memory on what you’ve learnt over the last couple of months will pay dividends when it comes time to prepare for your exams at the end of the year. It’s always easier to digest information when you review it regularly, rather than returning to it after months and months!
But we all know it’s hard to get motivated when holidays roll around – and fair enough, because you’ve been working hard all term. So how do you avoid letting your two weeks just drift away? Here’s a few tips on how to make the most of your holidays while still making sure you recharge your batteries.
Make sure to take a break.
First and foremost, remember that holidays are time for a break. You’ve worked hard, and you deserve it! You should take at least a few days, perhaps at the beginning of the holiday period or on Saturdays and Sundays, to relax and do things you enjoy. Spend some time with your family, see your friends, or put some time into a hobby.
Remember, it’s no use having a break if you spend the entire time stressing about your work! During the time you’ve put aside for rest, you should try to think about your schoolwork as little as possible. That way, you’ll be refreshed and motivated to pick back up on your homework and revision.
Of course, once you’ve taken a break, there will be some work to do. How can you get through this efficiently? Read on…
Try getting up early to revise for a couple of hours.
It can be easy to sleep in much later during the holidays than you would during the school term. However, there are a couple of reasons why you might want to push yourself to get up earlier than you normally would during the holidays.
Firstly, let’s say you have to get up at 6:45am during the term to get to school. If you sleep until 10am for the two weeks of the holiday period, chances are you’ll find it difficult to readjust to getting up early once school starts again, because your body has become used to the later wake-up.
Secondly, you may well find that you do your most effective work in the morning when you wake up. This is when your mind is freshest, so you’re more likely to be able to focus on what you’re learning. If you’re able to get up and do a couple of hours of work in the morning most days, you can enjoy the rest of the day free of stress!
Don’t leave all your homework until the last minute.
Most teachers will assign you some homework during the holiday period – whether this is writing an essay, sitting a practice test, or anything in between. It’s easy to put this off until the last minute, especially if you’re doing other revision.
Once you’ve had a few days’ rest, challenge yourself to prioritise the homework you’ve been given. That way, you’ll have the rest of the break to work on the areas you want to focus on, and it will allow you take the last couple of days of the break off to prepare yourself for the next term.
Try focusing your study on one or two subjects a day.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to revise for all of your subjects every day of the break. Not only is this not necessary, it’s often ineffective. Instead, you might find it help to choose one or two subjects to focus on each day, and cycle through these during the break.
When you jump from one subject to another, your mind has to go through an exercise called ‘context switching’. This is another term for switching from Physics mode to Geography mode, for example, and our minds aren’t very good at doing this quickly. What this means in practice is that you want to spend more time on each subject before switching to another, to allow yourself the time to fully immerse yourself in what you’re learning.
Summarise your notes for the term.
Once you sit down and decide to revise for a particular subject during the break, it’s often difficult to know where to start. During the term, you’ll naturally be doing work that relates to what you’ve learnt in a given day or week. During the holidays, though, you’re not learning anything new in class – so where do you start?
A good place to begin is by summarising everything you’ve learnt during the term. If you’ve got twenty pages of notes for a particular subject, you might want to try and pick out the most important concepts, and reduce them down to 3-5 pages. (If you’re interested in the art of good note-taking, check out our article here!). The act of going back through your work and pulling out what’s important is helpful at refreshing your memory on what you’ve learnt, even before you attempt any questions or practice tests. Speaking of…
Use the extra time to sit practice tests.
One of the advantages of school holiday time is that you’ve got the full day to concentrate on your work. This means it’s a great time to attempt a few practice tests, or even exams later in the year. These are some of the most useful ways you can revise, full stop – but during the term, it’s difficult to find the time to properly concentrate on them.
When sitting practice exams, try to simulate exam conditions as closely as possible. Prepare yourself with water, food, and bathroom breaks beforehand, and avoid looking at your notes. The more you can do this, the better prepared you’ll be when exams do roll around at the end of the year. You’ll be thanking yourself later!
Still not sure how to use your break? Our July 2021 school holiday programme is now open for registrations! Find out more and sign up here.
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