Last minute revision classes are an expected occurrence at this time of year. University libraries open 24 hours a day, or as close as they can manage, both in Hong Kong and overseas. Some libraries regularly follow similar opening hours. Catch-up sessions, after school study clubs and Saturday school become the norm in a lot of schools as the exam season draws closer. It is easy to see why. Parents demand results and schools, particularly fee-paying or struggling government schools, are under pressure to deliver them. Yet do these sessions actually do any good? They certainly put students and teachers, many of whom face massive pressures already, under even greater strain, so these classes certainly have a detrimental impact on mental health at what is already an upsetting time of year for many.
Some head teachers, both at home and abroad, have scrapped these classes for similar reasons (http://schoolsweek.co.uk/headteacher-scraps-mad-year-11-revision-classes-to-protect-pupil-mental-health/). Many teachers question the efficacy of last-minute revision when they have already spent the entire academic year doing their utmost to help students exceed their own expectations. Furthermore, many exams contain increasing coursework and presentation components, so if your performance in this areas has been subpar, then a good exam is hardly going to save your entire grade. Furthermore, last-minute classes communicate the message that cramming is an acceptable means of studying. We at this column, along with numerous mental health and education authorities have noted, on many occasions, that cramming is ineffective as well as damaging to health, wellbeing and motivation. Teachers, who have already been working hard all year, also shouldn’t have to face the additional pressure of students hassling them for after-hours meetings and questions as the exams draw nearer.
It is also worth noting that emergency revision sessions sabotage the ability of students to grow into independent learners, a skill that will be vital at university. Do you really need your teacher to sit with you while you do a past paper a few weeks before the final exam? I really hope not. By all means seek support. Constructive feedback (in the form of tutors, teachers, parents and independent study) is one of the best ways to improve at something, but this should be a process that goes on throughout the year. What, realistically, do you expect to happen in April and May if you have neglected this process throughout the year? Furthermore, essay based subjects like history and English rely on confident, eloquent and precise writing. This is something that develops slowly, so you can cram dates and quotes all you like but the way you convey them will still appear amateurish to examiners. So, for the sake of your grades, your teachers and your own health, plan ahead when seeking support, and rethink the need for last-minute revision.
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