by Professor Philip Race, Independant Consultant in Higher Education
Extract taken from 'Making Personal Tutoring Work', published by Leeds Metropolitan University
Reproduced with kind permission from the author
Most students regard revision for tests or exams as a bore. This is all too often because they have previously tackled the job in boring ways. They have tried to ‘learn’ their subject materials in nonproductive ways, and become disillusioned.
A good start is for personal tutors to reinforce that revision is simply about systematically becoming better able to answer questions – that’s what exams and tests actually measure. As with anything else, the best way to become better at something is to do it – and do it again – until it becomes second nature. Students who have practiced answering a question seven times in a fortnight are very likely indeed to get it right the eighth time – in the test.
Another way you can help your tutees with revision is by alerting them to what not to revise. There’s no point spending a lot of time and energy on learning something that won’t or can’t be the basis of a sensible exam or test question. Similarly, anything that isn’t directly related to an intended learning outcome is not on the revision agenda – if it were important it would have been there among those intended outcomes.
You can remind your tutees that what is measured by tests and exams isn’t what’s in their heads – it’s usually what comes out of their pens. In other words, it’s their evidence of achievement of the intended learning outcomes that is the basis for assessment, and the best revision processes involve purposeful practice at evidencing that achievement.