The great thing about English, specifically discourse analysis (the study of written and spoken language), is that even if there is nothing to write about, there is still something to write about, you know? Despite not necessarily knowing a term or a method of detailed analysis you can always find something, all it takes is a little connection and imagination. Just put yourself in the shoes of the reader and think; “how would that make me feel?” An that is the great thing, a lot of it takes imagination and technical thinking. Whilst there is a lot of practice and gruelling analysis involved, there is an essential need for passion and understanding, without passion English as a subject, and as a language in fact, is meaningless and maybe even boring. But when you have dedicated such a long time to it, and it has become such a large part of your life, there isn’t really any going wrong, discourse analysis just becomes a way of life, I guess.
I think, the thing about taking any subject such as history is that, you have to be dedicated to putting in the time and effort… like, really, really dedicated.
The work load is genuinely unreal, and there generally isn’t a great deal of time to do it in, which, is understandable given the amount of time given to learn the entirety of the exam specifications, but that still doesn’t make it any better.
For example being set 25 questions on the Russian civil war on Monday, and handing them in on Wednesday, isn’t fun.
So anyways, I study modern history, Britain and Russia. Britain is a breadth paper and Russia is depth, and so with Russia we cover things in a lot more detail, whereas Britain we look at more events in less detail.
How I revise British and Russian history
I feel like because there is so much information to take in, and so many dates, places and people to remember, that personally I wouldn’t be able to take all of that in, and memorise and understand it well enough to write an essay on it by just having pages and pages of writing.
For both papers, I definitely rely on revision cards, flash cards, cue cards, whatever you want to call them.. you get the gist, to actually learn the content. Now, for GCSE that’s great, and it can all end there, but with A level, you need to learn how to adapt your knowledge, and manipulate it to fit in with different aspects of a question.
After I have learnt the information from the cue cards, I’ll write the name of the topic, or a feature of it in the middle of a piece of paper, and just brainstorm or mind map every single thing I know about it. Once I’ve done this, I’ll look back through my notes and see if there is anything I’ve missed, which most likely is the case for the first few attempts, after finding something I have missed out, I’ll add it on in a different coloured pen so that I know it is something I have to focus on.
I’ll keep drawing the same mind map, but shortening each piece of information until eventually I can write one or two words and remember everything I need to know.
Past paper questions/essay practice
Practice questions are such an important part of revision, especially for essay based subjects, as timing is key.
In the booklets I get given by my teachers, there will always be a few practice essay questions to try, and some short answer questions that I will use for revision when looking through my notes.
So, once I have made my mind maps, and I’m sure that I know all the content well enough, I’ll move on to answering an essay question, making sure to time myself in writing my answer. If I don’t finish before the timer goes off, I will still carry on until I have finished writing, however I will bare in mind that I still need to work on my timing, and condensing of information so that I can get things written down more efficiently.
That’s really all I do when revising, obviously people find it easier to revise in different ways, and many people have their own unique style. But for me, I just find that repeatedly writing something and then answering questions on it works best.
Good luck revising!