EDUCATION: Revision strategies that will guarantee good grades

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Students reading in the school library. Using different materials during revision helps one to grasp concepts better. (Photos by Lydia Atieno)

Revision is a vital aspect of every student’s schooling journey, and educators believe that for one to be able to maintain good grades, they ought to embrace the culture of revision. The revision process involves reading through what has been taught in class using different materials such as notes, textbooks and past papers, among others.

Students will be soon sitting end of term examinations and experts believe that knowing the best tips for revision will ensure their success.

Revision guidelines

Stanley Mukasa, a Kigali-based educator, says learners can only sail through their academics triumphantly if they get proper guidelines on how to go about their revision with the help of their teachers.

He says teachers should not only give revision tips to students, but also make sure whatever they are giving them is relevant.

“Revision should be something that is interlinked to the day-to-day life of a learner; this will make it easier for them to understand whatever they are revising. Making sure that students get feedback on what they are reading is equally important as it will motivate them to do more revision and research,” he says.

Mukasa points out that when feedback is not given, students will not take what they are doing seriously, thus rendering their revision effort less fruitful.

He explains that making sure that the amount of revision work given is doable is also important.

“To achieve this, teachers need to guide learners on what, where, and how to revise, as well as for how long they should spend. This will give them a clear picture of what exactly is needed, which prevents irrelevant revision,” says Mukasa.

Emmy Giruwonsanga, a teacher at APPEC Secondary School in Remera, Kigali, says teachers should help the learners to understand that revision is a continuous process that involves exploring what has been taught in class and topics to be tackled in future.

Another important aspect of revision, Mukasa says it should be done in a way that incorporates technology.

“Today, we are dealing with students who are more into digital learning. Therefore, embracing this technology will make reading more fun as it connects them to the real world they are living in,” he says.

Giruwonsanga says teachers can achieve this by directing students to watch or listen to specific e-material concerning a particular topic.

However, Mukasa notes that sometimes teachers put blame on learners for not doing revision yet they are the ones who haven’t catered for the needs of students.

Giruwonsanga explains that effective revision should cater for multiple options, which allows students to go with whatever they feel comfortable with as long as it’s relevant.

“Having many options makes revision fun as learners enjoy making their own choices. It also gives them freedom and drives a sense of holding one self-accountable as there is less room for excuses in case of failure,” he says.

When and how to revise

Paul Swagga, a tutor at Akilah Institute for Women in Kibagabaga, Kigali, is of the view that learners have to create a flexible revision schedule which should be adjusted according to the situation.

“A learner can dedicate at least one hour per day to revise the day’s notes. An effective revision schedule gives room to the learner to evaluate the progress after reading a given topic,” he says.

If they are able to make an outline of what they have read, Swagga says they can consider revising notes for another topic or course unit.

He adds that it is not practical to revise notes of various topics without doing evaluation to determine the progress.

In order to find out if the learners have grasped something, Peter Gasinzigwa, who heads the examination items bank at Rwanda Education Board(REB), believes that at the end of every topic, revision is the best way teachers can use to ensure that the content covered is mastered.

“Students can use different materials of revision including past papers  so that they test themselves to establish if they still memorise what they were taught,” he says.

Gasinzigwa adds that the question approach is another good way to establish if learners are on course.

Another vital aspect when it comes to revision, he says, is for teachers to help students with the techniques of answering questions.

“This is where sometimes teachers go wrong. When revising, especially using past papers, it’s the teacher’s role to help a learner understand how best to approach what is being asked,” he says.

Gasinzigwa, for instance, explains that where a student is asked to explain, describe or list, all these key words need to be broken down to the learner so that they know the implication of each term when it comes to answering.

He notes that if that is not taught, learners may end up wasting their time revising relevant topics, but end up failing because they can’t respond according to what is needed.

When marking, either exams or an exercise, Gasinzigwa says giving feedback is important to help the learner know where they went wrong and how best they can go about it.

“Feedback is an important aspect of revision because it helps the learner to identify their mistakes and know what exactly they are supposed to do,” he says.

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A student makes notes while revising. Notes are an ideal summary of what has been revised. / Lydia Atieno.

Types of revision

Swagga says it’s also helpful to participate in group discussions after revising such that learners pick something or two from their colleagues.

“For the sake of students who find it hard to revise on their own, teachers should organise learners in small groups so that each member can contribute to whatever they are revising,” he says.

About online revision, he says its important but first learners should seek guidance from their teachers. This is because some online material is not authentic, meaning teachers should provide information about reliable online material.

For Nestor Niyitegeka, a computer and ICT teacher at Nyange 1 Secondary School in Musanze District, in group discussions, a gifted student can lead the revision as the rest of the class contributes. If they find any problems, listing them down and seeking the teacher’s guidance later is ideal.

He adds that reading widely is important as it helps the learner to get acquainted with information from different sources.

What the ministry says

According to Janvier Gasana the director-general of REB, the new curriculum has guidelines that teachers should use when it comes to revision.

For instance, he says, at the beginning of every lesson, a teacher is supposed to provide a recup of the previous lesson to make sure that their students understood what was taught. At the end of the lesson, they should take at least five minutes to do a revision exercise on what has been taught.

However, Gasana says revision is one of the key component which students should use if they want to perform well.

“Apart from just teachers, parents should also find time to help their children in doing revision. This doesn’t require any special skill whatsoever. What they need to do is set specific time for their children to do revision, and make sure they stick to it,” he says.

On digital revision, Gasana says they are trying to digitise learning in secondary schools.

“We have already deployed all materials to 500 schools across the country, and digital learning will start operating in about two month’s time,” he says.

He adds that digital reading and revising is important as it gives learners more energy and morale to go through what they have learnt just because it’s fun and interesting.

 

How often do you do revision?

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Musabimana

Michael Musabimana, student at GS Rugando

Our teachers encourage us to do a lot of research whenever we have free time. I find it okay because after that we always present our findings for the teacher to correct where necessary during group discussions. Discussions help us not to repeat the same mistake.

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Ndahiro

Emmanuel Ndahiro, S5 student at St Patrick School, Kicukiro

I do revisions almost every day depending on my timetable, but most of the time I use the morning and evening hours. This is because I find it the ideal time to grasp information compared to other time. Besides, our teachers always encourage us to learn what examiners look out for.

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Bishumba

Millicent Bishumba, university student

I normally do revision for a few hours for every subject when 1 am free. I use textbooks and as many past paper as possible. But again it all depends on an individual; for those who can’t do revision on their own; I think group work can work for them.

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Habiyaremye

Christella Habiyaremye, S3 student at Apaper School

Although I try to revise during night preps, I find it hard to concentrate before it is at least three weeks before the start of examinations. I always find it easier to memorise whatever I have been revising ahead of exams.