Ragging: The Ultimate Exam Revision Technique for Students

Exam Taking Session
Exam Taking Session

Secret Teacher Says…

While for many thousands – if not millions – across the world, Easter is a time for rest, this is not the case for students at international schools, for whom the Easter holidays are instead prime cram time before their final IGCSE, IB and A Level exams. Let the Secret Teacher introduce you to some key revision tips that will help you reach the top grades.
Have you ever had so much to accomplish that you are paralysed by indecision? Well… in this case, today’s simple technique will get you out of that paralysis, lifting up your mat and walking!

The answer? Ragging

No, it’s not the latest salaula bale…

Step 1: Make a list of all the topics you have to revise. Try to break it down as much as possible. E.g. rather than just saying you need to know Pythagoras, break it down into individual steps: 1. Know the formula for Pythagoras’ theorem. 2. Know when to apply Pythagoras’ theorem. 3. Be able to apply the formula with simple numbers.

Step 2: For each topic, allocate a Red, Amber, or Green category. Green equals confidence – you can do this without needing to revise it. Amber – with a bit of revision, you can do this. Red – you have no idea what this even means…

Step 3: Start with the Red topics. Ask a friend, tutor or teacher for help – or even try Youtube. Plan to conquer one or two reds in each subject every day. Aim to turn them from red to amber… and then to green.

Step 4: After working hard on a couple of red topics, then pick up a couple of amber. You got it. Revise these so that they can turn from amber to green.
Your aim, very simply, is to have as many topics as possible green by the time of the exam, because, of course, if they are green, then you will be aiming for the 90-100%.

How does this work?

We fear the unknown: a snake lurking somewhere in the dark is much scarier than a clearly visible one at midday. When we are scared, our brain goes into fight or flight mode… and if we can do neither, then mental paralysis ensues.
By firstly writing down all the topics we need to know, we draw an imaginary box around the subject. It reminds us that we have only a finite amount of knowledge to learn, and thus, our brain is more able to cope with the task at hand.
By RAG (red-amber-green) -ing each topic, we are able to establish even more control of the subject at hand. As the greens increase, so will our confidence. Small wins add up. At the end of the day, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Don’t be tempted to start with the greens – or even just start on page 1 of a textbook. Chances are you know this already, and while it might help you feel good for a moment, it’s not very effective at demolishing the mountain of red and amber lurking round the corner. You only have a finite amount of time before the exam, so you need to make sure you use it wisely.
You got this! Get ragging!


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