13+ Common Entrance Revision: handwrite or type?

May 25, 2016.

13+ Common Entrance Revision: handwrite or type?

13+ Common Entrance Revision: handwrite or type?

Should we handwrite revision notes or type them up on a computer?  Which method is better and why?

Teachers will generally advocate for a handwritten approach to revision.  The exception might be if a child is going to take their Common Entrance Exams on the computer, in which case the more typing practice the better.  As ever, children have varying views on what is best for them however. 

Pen and Paper for Common Entrance Revision

The old style paper and pen route often means a slower approach and, therefore - good news - more time for processing along the way.  There’s no reason not to be creative and even decorative with diagrams and colour coding wherever helpful in note taking.  Of course, a more linear approach will suit some children and many will prefer to mix and match their style, depending on the subject.  

Here are some comments from some of last years 13+ Common Entrance and 13+ Scholarship students:

“You can revise really well by writing things out, drawing diagrams, pictures and tables and doing example questions. For final bullet points and notes, typing is probably clearer though.”  Charlie, Year 8

“Handwrite. I find I digest the information more as I'm writing, so I’m revising more as I go along.  Learning Common Entrance vocab for French, for example, is so hard but it works better to write by hand.  Also, when you handwrite, you tend to write more slowly.  There’s time to soak in the information.”  Abigail, Year 8

“I prefer to type but, if I type, I tend not to remember so easily.  I think when I write down things it stays in my head a little bit longer.”  Alex, Year 8

“Even though I type MUCH faster than I write, it's not so great when trying to add diagrams, graphs or have little notes pointing to certain bits.”  Nicholas, Year 8

Computer type for Common Entrance Revision

Variety is important to motivation and concentration during this final sprint to 13+ Common Entrance.  If a child asks if they can use the computer, it would be an idea to ask specifically why and keep and eye on the amount of screen time.  

There are a great many brilliant resources online for self-study and a 20-minute blast on Quizlet, for example, could well serve a productive purpose, provide a change and help to re-energise a child.  Beware of the dangers though: there are so many distractions to tempt a child away from their learning objectives.  Benjamin, Year 8, puts it well:

“I love typing but when I try typing my notes on the computer, my hand accidently drifts to click on the Internet or to message a friend and then that is the end of my revision.”

Whichever method the children choose, active revision is essential.  Picking apart their notes and restructuring them is a useful and effective way to revise.  By taking the material and reformatting the detail in a mind map or reorganising it into bullet points or simply practising some answers and making connections to related material, the information will lodge itself more firmly. 

Timing is also key to success.  The well-worn maxim of ‘little and often’ could not be more pertinent.  If able to organize Common Entrance learning and spread revision out rather than cramming, there will be scope to revisit topics and, therefore, greatly improve retention. 

The bottom line is to work out an effective way to revise that suits and – whether with pen and paper, keyboard or both – the more efficient your style, the more you will retain ready to wow in time for those 13+ Common Entrance Exams.


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