Exam Preparation Week 3
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
It's holidays and it’s time now to get stuck into some serious exam revision. In order to revise for PE and not get overwhelmed, I found it useful to break up my revision into Unit 3 and Unit 4 topics. I then planned to spend the first week of the holidays focusing on Unit 3 and the second week focusing on Unit 4.
Trying to revise all the content for PE can be really overwhelming, so it’s important to break it up into topics and to prioritise which areas need the most attention.
The first step is to remind yourself of all the topics you have covered this year in PE. This is a great time to use the study design to make a list of all the topics in PE. In this list, I also included the subtopics that the design mentions specifically. Don’t forget to also look over your own notes quickly to see if there are any topics that are important but not mentioned explicitly on the study design (for example, Lactate Inflection Point (LIP) does not appear on the study design but falls under the categories of aerobic energy system fatigue and aerobic chronic adaptations). Here is an example list for a topic in Unit 3 AOS1 with a column to check off areas once you have revised them:
Now that you have a way of seeing everything that you need to know altogether, it’s important to remind yourself that you do not need to re-learn a whole year’s worth of content! You remember stuff! So, the next step I took in my revision was to consider which topics I already felt comfortable with and which topics I needed to focus my revision on. The way that I isolated which ones I felt good about and which topics needed some work was by asking myself some simple questions:
What topics are my favourite?
Which areas do I remember really well?
Which areas do I need to improve on?
For example, I found that I remembered the topic of energy systems particularly well because I had thought about it throughout the year in connection to planning and designing training programs and chronic adaptations. Therefore, I knew I did not need to spend a lot of time revising Energy systems. For the topics I already felt confident with, I checked them off the list, so that I could get a better idea of what my revision would look like.
To maximise my revision efficiency, I used a similar process of elimination for each topic. A great way to figure out what you remember and what you don’t is to grab a blank piece of paper, give it a heading like ‘Biomechanics’ and then put on a timer for 10 minutes and write down everything you remember from biomechanics. If you’re a more visual learner, you can also do this activity as a mind-map.
It’s important to remember that everything that you have learned can come up on the exam. This means that your revision needs to be thorough and not just focus on the topics that you like. Actively identifying the areas that you don’t like or feel confident about by using these brainstorming techniques can help to focus your revision. I also found, through the process of doing practice exams, that some topics tend to come up more than others. In my experience, Unit 3 topics that are examined heavily are energy systems and energy system interplay. Biomechanics, while a very big topic and one that students worry about a lot, has not been overly represented on the exam. This is just to remind you not to spend all of your revision time focusing on one topic!
I found that doing all of these lists and brainstorms really helped me to refine my revision of the PE content so that I was targeting the areas that I needed to, without wasting time reviewing information I already knew.
In terms of actually revising content, I found that the more variety you can bring into your study, the better!
I found it useful to look over a summarised form of notes (your own or some you have been given) to refamiliarize myself with the content. I think that re-writing notes is not a good way to be active in your revision and will ultimately take a LOT of time. Use the notes you already have to revisit the information.
I revisited activities that I had used for SAC preparation (for example, practice SAC questions) and looked at the topics that I had struggled with on SACs throughout the year.
Rather than just sitting at a desk revising the information, I liked to walk around or spread my notes out on the floor and work actively through the content. When revising, I also found it was important to take short breaks regularly in order to keep focussed and not end up wasting time. Often, I would set a 20-minute timer to revise a topic and then have a 10-minute break.
If possible, talking to your friends who are also doing PE is a great way to revise. If you are meeting up over video call or in person, having a set topic that you are going to discuss is always a good idea to make sure you don’t get distracted.
Revising Unit 3 content is often the most time-consuming part of revision. I found that tackling it in the first week of the holidays set me up to have all my revision done by the end of the break and then have plenty of time for practice exams.
Once you've done that, it's time to move onto Unit 4 revision.
The great thing about revising for Unit 4 is that it’s much less work. Most of the content is still pretty fresh in your mind, for example if you have just finished covering chronic adaptations or psychological strategies in class you don’t need to spend much time revising this at all! Some of you may still have a final SAC coming up early in term 4 and so reviewing the content for that SAC can double as your revision.
Because Unit 4 might be a bit more familiar to you, it’s important to really think about what areas you need to invest your time into in your revision. The brainstorming and planning activities I outlined in last week’s entry on Unit 3 revision will still be very helpful for you for Unit 4. So, the first step I took in starting my Unit 4 revision was figuring out what I actually needed to revise.
Now let’s talk study methods. Revising the content for your subjects doesn’t need to be a long, boring process that has you chained to your desk- this is especially true for PE. These are some of the methods I found most useful when doing my PE revision.
The first thing I did was to look over my notes briefly- and I mean briefly. I made sure that I didn’t spend more than a day or two looking over notes because, as important as it is to revisit the information and refresh your memory, this is not the most effective way to do it! When looking over my notes, I used a highlighter to isolate the most important points and also paid attention to the areas that I had highlighted throughout the year. Highlighting or underlining as you read really helps to make sure that you are engaged in what you are doing. Highlighting the most important bits to you – maybe areas that you struggled with or that you forgot about, will also help to bring your attention to these topics. Remember – you DO NOT need to rewrite your notes, you have enough, use what you’ve got.
Once I had looked over the content a little bit, I found it useful to look over the SACs for that topic (you may not have them on you, but often if you ask your teacher will lend them to you) or any practice SACs or practice questions I had done for the topic. This really helped me to start thinking about the content in application again and to consider how it is tested and what terms and structures I should use to respond. Often this aspect of revision would really remind me of some key elements that you need to include in your answers for certain topics. For example, in chronic adaptations I was reminded of the importance of linking the content back to improvement in overall sporting performance for the specific athlete.
For any topics that I was still feeling a little bit unsure about, I would jump onto YouTube and find a video of someone explaining it a bit further or in a different way. Getting some new perspectives really added to my depth of understanding and prepared me to answer questions that were phrased in a way that was different from what I was used to in my SACs. Videos where the content is applied practically by a sporting group were the ones I found most useful.
Particularly for the topic of training program design, I found practical study to be the most effective way of remembering the different training methods. This also provided a nice break from other revision. Quickly designing a training session or a program and then doing one of the sessions is a really great way of integrating the revision process into your day to day activities. After the session, you can then evaluate the program in terms of training methods, training principles and fitness components and figure out which kind of athlete this session would be useful for and which kind of athlete it would be less useful for. This is a great revision activity to do with friends, either in person or over video call.
My goal throughout the revision process was to end up with a really clear idea of what definitions/terms I really need to know and how larger concepts work. For these I use cue cards and posters respectively. As I revised each topic, I would try to identify the most important information and put that on a cue card or a poster so that I could continue small revision sessions throughout the coming weeks.
Next week, we will talk in detail about how to continue your revision on a smaller scale up to the exam. For now, keep working on finishing up the bulk of your revision, keep yourself strict on the times when you are supposed to be working and allow yourself to relax during rest periods. Keep going, you’re smashing it!