The Secret to Successful Revision A practical guide for GCSE Geography teachers

Imagine a father of one of your students visiting you. He’s rather disappointed with his daughter’s exam results and can’t readily reconcile how hard the teenager worked with the lower than expected grade. “What went wrong?” is the question he poses.

All too often, the answer is simple. The type of revision that has been done at home by this promising student has been ineffective, focusing on knowledge acquisition rather than understanding.

It is this observation that leads to the thought that the knowledge one needs to give to students is that knowledge is not quite as important as they think.

The typical weighting for knowledge in a GCSE Geography exam is only between 30 and 40% of the marks. But, despite this fact, left to their own devices some of my students would happily devote near to 100% of their geography revision time to the retention of knowledge.

Some, in pursuit of the magical A* grade, will recreate their notes into beautifully colour co-ordinated works of Post-It note art or elaborate mind maps that spread like trailing vines throughout their bedroom and threaten to take over their parents’ house. But still, despite all the work, these students will ignore the other 60-70% of the marks that are not knowledge based.

So, it may be argued that in the classroom the teacher no longer has to emphasise knowledge. As creatures of habit, students will still spend plenty of time on knowledge acquisition, leaving the teacher free to fill their revision sessions with activities that enable them to practise applying that knowledge and honing their skills.

“The Secret to Successful Revision” makes clear that students retain more by actively re-working their knowledge in different ways than by reading revision guides or following revision lessons. It deals with methods of revising geography which take into account the way exams are marked. It covers “command words” and “maximising marks on terms and definitions”, simplifying case studies, using data from graphs and maps, and much more.

The Secret to Successful Revision is published as a download so that you can receive immediately a copy onto your computer which you can print out for colleagues as often as you want.

There are sample pages from the book at and you can order it at

The price is £10 plus VAT (the VAT can be reclaimed in most cases by the school).

The Secret to Successful Revision is published by First and Best in Education, part of the Hamilton House group. If you have any enquiries you can call 01536 399 011, or email or write to us at First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct., Earlstrees Rd., Corby, Northants NN17 4HH.

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