Saturday, 7 January 2012

Guest Blog Post: Essential Memorisation Techniques for GCSE

Most of us learn successfully through a mixture of seeing, hearing and doing. When it comes to succeeding in GCSEs, we also need a mixture of techniques to help us. Here are some top tips on essential techniques for GCSE success:

Tips on effective note-taking
Students need to be able to take effective notes so they can re-read and reflect on the essentials of a lesson. This enables them to deepen their learning and fill in any blanks with further study. Some well-organised notes are also essential for effective Stage 2 preparation in MFL GCSEs.

However, students often find note-taking a challenge, so here are some suggestions:
*Ensure your lessons are structured in a way that is conducive to effective note-taking;
*Encourage students to use a mix of old-fashioned pen and paper, ICT, post-it notes, highlighters in class as well the recording facilities on their phones at home;
*Emphasise that it is not necessary to write down every word-only what they have trouble remembering from English into the Target Language; 
*Encourage them to use plenty of space and write down main headings and subheadings as they go along so they can fill in the details later or try to remember them
*Some students might prefer more visual note-taking techniques such as mind-mapping or diagrams, which show how each idea link into another.

Tips on memorising
Memorising through endless repetition or singing can work with auditory students. Saying the text to be memorised to a tune or a rhythm can also help.

Visual memorisation aids are also useful and can include:
*Silly stories or unusual pictures, as a prompt to remember ideas;
*Study posters, perhaps incorporating a mind map, as a way to memorise the structure of the questions to be memorised; 
*Study cards, to help memorise individual facts like key vocabulary and structures. 

Tips on exam recall
We can help our students with simple techniques to help steady the nerves and aid recall during exams. This includes the opportunity to practise basic exam techniques such as:

Reading the questions
*Sticking to the question and answering each part in full;
*Drawing students' attention on common mistakes;
*Weighting and allocating appropriate time to each question.

Practising with past exam papers is certainly not cheating (but do check your exam board’s policy on reproducing and distributing old papers) and will help students to understand the level of detail required in the exam as well as to familiarise themselves with its format.

For the exam itself, you may like to suggest that students take a few deep breaths to settle their nerves before turning over the exam paper. Students may also find it helpful to boost their confidence by noting down familiar mnemonics, key words and structures before starting the Listening and Reading papers.

Like other recall techniques, mnemonics can be applied across subjects. They are as useful to GCSE students as to executives on English corporate courses in London, so it is well worth teaching your students how to use them.

Go over these essential tips for GCSE success with your students before the exam-when students starts getting nervous, it is always useful to go back to basics to settle them.

1 comment:

Pat Jones said...

I totally agree with your memorization tips! The brain likes stories, and I use a lot of silly ones to help my sixth grade math students remember key vocabulary and concepts.

The brain remembers pictures and songs, too, so I also use those in my teaching.

I share specifics about improving memory at my website - Teacher Support Force.