Ah, revision! That hatred beast that seems entirely pointless once you sit down in an exam and all possible knowledge required leaves your head. It seems to drain energy from you and from the day, so that no amount of flashcards, notes or extremely elaborate spider diagrams will ever stick in your brain. Indeed, in my experience, revision has only provided me with some highly irregular results – at GCSE, I revised hardest for my History exam and came out with a grade lower that initially predicted, and at my Government and Politics exam in January of this year, my revision became less of looking at new stuff and more of learning brand new things that hadn't been covered.
Still, revision seems to bring out in all of us a certain knack for the art of procrastination. From a quick game on the Xbox that mysteriously turns into an all day marathon to discovering a sudden urge to clean one’s room, a chore long put off; or even to writing a long silent blog. Facebook especially seems to become a black hole of trivial nonsense which suddenly seems to become incredibly interesting and time consuming (oh Harry Potter memes, how fast you can make the hours go!). Whichever which way, it seems that revision is the one thing everyone wishes to avoid. But is it about to get worse? Should government proposals go ahead, it certainly will be, at least for those taking A Levels. Having already removed the possibility of January exams, cutting off the chance of modular tests, education ministers are now considering reducing the two separate years – AS and A2 – to one whole course.
Of course it means it’s harder (and means twice as much revising *groan*) but it also means a much better test of knowledge. With the exception of very few subjects, the whistle-stop one year courses mean that many can get away with last minute cramming and remembering a few facts that you will never think of again, just for the sake of the exam. In contrast, a two year course will much more test the depth of your knowledge than the depth of your memory bank – and although it may seem like a lot more work, it will be so much more beneficial in the long run. As a taker of four essay based subjects (seriously, nobody tried to stop me? Why?!), I can easily say that a two year course would be much better. Though knowledge is, of course, key, it is the application of it that really counts and that kind of skill can only be truly honed over a two year basis. Admittedly, I won’t look forward to the state of my hand at the end of the exam (likely to be twice as long) which already currently looks and feels like it’s been put in the washing machine with several sharp knives at the end of a two and a half hour English paper. The same cannot necessarily be said for subjects such as the maths and sciences, where it is nearly all facts and knowledge – and certainly not the same guarantee of crippling agony (though admittedly they do have the unenviable position of being the last exams on the timetable, so that they are confined to revision whilst others are free to enjoy the non-existent sunshine). However I know that I would rather have two years to practice my equations as opposed to just one – I would certainly find it much easier to f(x)! (To all maths students and others who understood that, I apologise for my sense of humour…)
For now though, at least, the endless cramming must continue. Whilst I may extol the virtues of an extended course, I know I will never reap the benefits of it and must instead prepare for an eternity of boredom. One request I would make of examining bodies though – please move the exams further away from the Easter holidays, so that I do not feel the need to revise in the presence of a mountain of chocolate. Needless to say it is the most comforting of procrastination and will inevitably lead to me rolling into my exam hall rather than walking. As for now, I must return myself to the dreaded revising – I wish luck to everyone taking exams this summer, at whatever age, and to all essay writers: good luck to your hands!