Cognitive-Based Techniques for Exam Revision

Why creative links between subject content could be just one of the keys to success.

Exercise, a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep are things which we all know to be crucial when studying for important tests and exams.  We are all also familiar – either as a student, parent or teacher – with the feelings of anxiety and stress that come hand in hand with this time of year. A big part of the exam period when I was teaching came down to managing students’ anxiety and fear of failure – letting them know that it is normal to a degree and encouraging them to communicate about how they feel with people they trust.

Appropriate study spaces, a good and realistic revision timetable, and the use of past practice questions also play a key part of course (more on these via the links below).  Yet, reading Benedict Carey’s article below in the New York Times a few years ago reminded me of a strategy I’d used previously that really motivated students when revising for their English exams: making creative links between English-related subject content and seemingly irrelevant and unrelated objects, pictures and songs of their choice. Some truly amazing links were made between Lady Macbeth and The Beatle’s Octopus’s Garden! (The basis of a students’ GCSE music project at the time.)

Carey highlights cognitive research which suggests, “Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting — alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading and speaking in a new language — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time.” He goes on to report how researchers have found that we are better able to distinguish the painting styles of 12 unfamiliar artists after viewing mixed collections rather than immersing ourselves in the work of just one. Seeing the deeper patterns and trends between the different styles helps us remember and reapply what we have learned more effectively and is often done subconsciously whilst making links.

It also provides much more fun and upbeat revision lesson alternatives to intersperse between the also important more traditional methods.

Useful links

rachel headshotRachel Wallace is a former English teacher and KS3/4 Leader. Easyread is an online intervention for children with reading difficulties, dyslexia, auditory processing problems and more.

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I would recommend to other parents

First of I want to say Thank You for the great communication that you provide. Sarah, from Easyread was amazing. When I had a question it was answered quickly and completely.
My son has shown improvement in his reading with this program and I feel that he will keep improving as long as we continue to read everyday.
I one thing we would have liked is if the program was compatible with a Tablet or an Ipad,so we could take it with us where ever we went.
Overall it was a great program and I would recommend it to other parents who’s child is struggling with reading.

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First day I truly noticed marked improvement

Just a quick note to tell you Finn really enjoy his lesson today, it went super quickly and he didn’t have any trouble with it at all. Today was the first day I truly felt I could say I have noticed a marked improvement in his reading. Playing Pinball, he decoded ‘was’, a word that has always confused him, and a few others that I know he might have guessed incorrectly before. He was sure of his reading too, rather than reading words with a question mark in his voice. I love it!

Many thanks for your excellent programme.

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So excited I just had to write in!

I am so excited I just had to write a note to update you on Allison’s progress (she suggested I do that :) ). I have been so worried about Allison being recommended for summer school because of her reading. On Friday we just received the results of her end of year (second grade) reading testing. She tested out exactly on grade level! At the beginning of this school year, her reading test scores showed results more towards the beginning of a first grade level. Even her mid-year testing results weren’t that great which is what prompted me to begin looking earnestly online for something to help her. I am so thankful that God led me to find Easyread! We will be doing it all summer and I’m excited for her to start third grade with that many more lessons under her belt! Thank you!

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Such change in only 6 months!

Cameron continues with what I would think is tremendous progress. It’s as if with the help of Easyread as well as his Wilson Fundations curriculum we are doing through homeschool that he has learned, truly learned, and adopted, the use of phonemes and decoding as his actual reading process. He is no longer afraid of text, although sometimes the length of texts frighten him or cause him a bit of anxiety. Every time he does Letter Quest, (he does it on “easy” because of the monsters) he absolutely flies through it. I am so happy to see such change in six months’ time. I look back at his writing and spelling from the Fall, and he has completely improved in every area.

He wanted me to share with you that he made a Lego haunted house with monsters in it today. He asked me how you pronounce “monsters” over in England – I told him something like “muonstahs!” He laughed about that one.

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Teacher was just amazed

We have been quite happy with the results of using Easyread. I talked with his teacher the other day and he is right on grade level with everyone else and she was just amazed that he improved over a grade level in such a short period of time. After asking David how he feels about his reading, he said he feels good and no longer feels like he is struggling.

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I can’t overstate the benefit of Easyread

Thank you David — It has been a wonderful journey for Flora. I can’t overstate how we have all benefited from Easyread and how it has been such a positive experience.
Flora is reading happily, even joyfully and has made so much progress and retained and increased her confidence during a period when she could easily have lost it.
Thank you for all you have done.

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