It’s an inevitable fact of life that summer holidays are the natural enemy of the British national syllabus. We all know that feeling of returning to school in September with a niggling suspicion that the summer sun might have melted away a little of what we learned in June. Fortunately, few students are subject to post-summer assessments. The same cannot be said, however, for the winter holidays. Although three weeks may not seem like a long time, it’s easy to get caught up playing in any snow we might be lucky enough to receive, or spending time with that long awaited video game your parents gave you, and completely forget that exams loom on the other side of December.
Whether it’s Christmas, Pancha Ganapti, Hannukah, Bodhi Day, Yuletide, New Year or Kwanzaa, whatever festivities you are involved in this winter, our holiday gift to you is five top tips for making the most of your free time for study, without missing out on all of the festive fun. Here’s how to have a productive winter holiday:
Tip 1: Plan
Step 1: Create a calendar spanning your time off.
Step 2: Enter any pre-existing social commitments, including family visits and religious festivals.
Step 3: Divide up your revision load between the remaining days, including revisiting the syllabus and exam practice.
Step 4: Blindly obey your plan.
Step 5: Laugh at how easy it was to get all of those As…
Tip 2: Be realistic
As much as we like to believe ourselves when we vow to do at least one past paper on our so called ‘days off’, not even the straight-A students work 24 hours each day (more importantly, nobody needs to). So telling yourself you’ll do just one past paper on New Year’s Day achieves two things (neither of which contribute to your revision): 1) Putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to get work done when you should be having fun, and 2) Putting you behind on your work schedule – those papers will have to be completed sometime.
With all the pressure of exams, it’s important not to forget that unlike all the little elves, you are in fact human, and deserve a break once in a while.
Tip 3: Reward yourself
Revising during the festive holidays is at least twice as hard as any other time, so make sure that your rewards are at least twice as good. To restore the yin and yang of your winter holidays, it’s time to balance out all of those dusty, dreary book ridden hours with some of the best revision breaks you’ll have all year. Made 80% on a past paper? Time to kick your feet up in front of the fire with a glass of mulled wine and a Lindt reindeer. Managed to finish all of your notes for biology? Better get started on that gingerbread house. Just feel that you’ve lost concentration and need to take five? SNOWBALL FIGHT!
Tip 4: Team up
One of the worst parts about revising at any time is having to replace visits from friends with visits from books and not-so-entertaining-but-mildly-educational YouTube videos. So instead of sulking at home resenting the fact that you didn’t leave school to pursue a career in literally anything which doesn’t require an education (of which, we admit, there are few), ask a couple of classmates over and revise together. Not only will your revision be better quality, but you might even discover a Christmas miracle – that you look forward to revision!
Tip 5: Decorate!
A year round revision tip is to stick notes around your house, to allow you to absorb information with minimal effort. But the festivities deserve a little more effort than just pinning a list of verbs to the fridge, don’t you think? Why not nestle a few chemical formulae in among the mistletoe? Maybe even dangle some of those important WWII dates from the Bodhi Tree. I’m sure your parents wont mind if you replace the angel on top of the Christmas tree with an illustrated diagram of the Kreb’s cycle…
Written by Sophie Valentine