Category Archives: Article

The test for success – finding the right revision method

ExamToday I got my exam results for my journalism masters at UCLan… and I’ve passed! The hard work has been worth it, especially as I got distinctions for all my practical work and digital assignments (which this blog played a part in.) I potentially won’t have to sit another exam again but I know there are many with exams still in full swing or maybe you want to have some tips so that you – or your kids – are better prepared the next time they get their heads down to revise.

Recently, I interviewed revision expert, Patrick Wilson, about exam tips and it reminded me of an article I wrote about revision techniques back  when I was doing A Levels It appeared in our Sixth Form magazine and I know it helped people there at the time – so I thought I’d post it here on my blog and it could help you too…

I’d love a photographic memory, wouldn’t you? In reality though, not many people actually have this gift – anyone who says they don’t need to revise for an exam is probably lying! Also – you are unique – how your mate is revising might not be the best method for you. There’s still time left to try out some different techniques and see which you like best.

You’ve probably heard this mentioned a lot: There are three main ways in which people learn, visually (through seeing), aurally (through hearing), and kinaesthetically (through doing). It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what type of learner you are; most people are usually a mixture of these styles. If you revise using a variety of methods for each style you are more likely to remember that vital information in the exam. Varying techniques is also a good way for your revision to become a little less tedious and boring too.


Visual is exactly what it says on the tin – learning by seeing things. If a teacher writes a task on the board are you more likely to remember it than if they had just told you? These types of learners will probably like to look at pictures and diagrams. In Science, you might like to draw a flow chart to help you get to grips with an experiment you have just completed. For History, why not write a certain year in the middle of the page and draw lines to all the different events that happened in a mind map? Whatever you do use plenty of colour – this will help for things stand out and become prominent in your mind.


Aural or auditory is leaning by hearing things. Do you like it when a teacher explains things by talking about it? If you have a big wad of notes that seem to go right over your head when you read through them then you might be an auditory learner. It may be of benefit to you if you actually record yourself reading key points out loud and you can play it back any time you want. Voice recorders come standard on most mobile phones now, so this is easy to do – if you don’t like the sound of your voice then get someone to read your notes to you. Hearing words rather than reading them might make you understand information better.


The final of the three common learning styles is kinaesthetic or tactile –  learning by doing things. Do you like it when a teacher demonstrates something? This method will probably suit those of you studying more practical subjects, such as Drama or Technology. However, tactile learning is not limited to these types of subjects and everyone will be able to utilise the benefits of this method. For instance, you could make a model of a DNA structure for Science.  If you’re studying a Shakespeare play for English, try acting out a scene from the play – you’re bound to remember what happens then!

exam hall 2

With the right  revision techniques that suits you and the subject you’re studying, you will be on the path to success. You can never do too much revision but remember that you need to take regular breaks from study too. You need to find the right balance between revision and social time – you can always tip that balance when exams are over!

Here’s my Grange Hill themed chat with revision expert, Patrick Wilson, who gives his tips for exam success…

Stockport: My reaction to the ‘Portas Pilot’

A scheme that sounds like ‘Pontius Pilate’, was surely doomed from the start – wasn’t it? I’m talking about the Portas Pilot, backed by a government pot of money and Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas’ experience. The plan was to bring life back to town centres that are struggling to get strong footfall into shops. The pilot has been running (and failing) across the country but towns in the North West that have been taking part are Nelson in Lancashire and Stockport, Greater Manchester.

viaductStockport is my hometown and I’m not ashamed of it – but I am ashamed of what people think of it. There were sniggers in the newsroom, and astonishment out on the street, when the town came second in a poll of the happiest places to live in the UK. My opinion is that Stockport suffers from being so close to the bright lights and bigger city of a fantastic place like Manchester – where there’s something for anyone. As a result, our town centre – and people’s impression – of the place has taken a turn for the worst.

In reality, Stockport shouldn’t be judged by flying visits through the train station or from empty shop units that are all around the centre. I like it here and there are many things Stopfordian’s should be proud of.

plazaMY TOP THREE HIGHLIGHTS: (My opinion and it doesn’t cover everything!)

1.  Newly restored art deco theatre, The Plaza, featuring the original wurlitzer organ that rises from the orchestra pit is something to be proud of. There’s a good range of shows on and the pantomimes always fill the seats, despite competition from the wide range of theatres in Manchester

2. I’m a supporter of independent cinemas that offer a quint alternative to the multiplexes; to have one in any town gets a big tick from me. We don’t have one… we have two! The Savoy in Heaton Moor has survived being taken over by developers more times than I can remember but thankfully it’s still going strong. The Regent in Marple is so nostalgic that they have an interval in the film and and ice-cream seller comes down the aisle.

3. The amount of green space in an urban town like ours is something I particularly enjoy, I don’t think many people realise how lucky we are to have it. Reddish Vale is just one example of an oasis of calm that’s practically on my doorstep – there are many other places of serenity around the borough to visit and I’m discovering hidden gems all the time.

Reddish Vale

… Stockport’s Pure 107.8 FM is obviously another highlight too, but as I’m the Chilled Pure weeknight presenter, I am slightly biased!

MY BOTTOM THREE LOWLIGHTS (I’m being realistic here!)

1. The amount of nightlife available is: Zilch. If you call ending up in the Weatherspoons a night out then you really do need to get out more. Manchester is only eight miles away – that’s a double edged sword for a small town like Stockport. Any kind of amenity or entertainment is so close by that Stockport finds it hard to have anything to top it. (Excluding my haunt of Heaton Moor in this, by the way. It’s great but has an 11pm curfew as it’s a residential area – no good for night owls like me!)

grand central2. The much-needed redevelopment of the Grand Central area needs to get a move on. While the developers have been working on it (ever since I was in primary school) most people now go bowling or to the cinema (multiplex – grrr!) at nearby Parrs Wood complex in Didsbury. Good luck in getting them to come back! It lost it’s appeal when the Heaven and Hell nightclub shut down… now it seems that all we are left with is the hell part.

3. The town centre, or rather, the lack of one. No surprise here! Mary Portas was supposed to help us out but it turns out that ten of the twelve pilot towns have not seen a rise in shop occupancy since it began and Stockport is one of them. In fact, shop occupancy has fallen in the town centre. Although it’s a year since the pilot started, speaking to the BBC’s You and Yours programme, Mary Portas said we need to wait to see improvement:

“Over the last year this government has worked hard to help communities across the country boost their high street. We have lifted planning restrictions to help landlords make better use of their empty properties, and cut business rates for small shops. […] Let’s celebrate their achievements so far and learn and share ideas. Real change will take time.”

The clock is ticking… At the moment though, it would seem that some portaloos in the town centre would be far more useful than the Portas Pilot.

stockport town centre

Around the bend!

The essential guide for anyone learning to drive…

JUL l platesHighway Code from back to front, not to mention the countless hours of relentless private practice that, yet your theory and practical test revision is still driving you around the bend! Don’t worry, all the help you need to pass your driving test is right here and the best part is, you don’t even need to start the engine!

Now the academic year is drawing to a close I’ve noticed a lot of people making the great decision to learn how to drive. I thought it would be useful for me to post this article to my blog which I originally wrote for my college magazine, just after I had passed the test myself, almost six years ago. Some parts of the test have changed slightly since I became a qualified driver but I’ve researched this in order to keep as up-to-date as possible. If you are currently learning to drive, or just want to brush up on some facts, then I hope this article can be of some help to you and that driving gives you as much enjoyment as it does me.

The  fact is that everyone you see behind the wheel of car that doesn’t have L Plates attached must have passed their driving test – otherwise it’s a blatant offence. The only difference will be if someone passed the British driving test before the 1st of July 1996 they would not have taken a theory and hazard perception test first.

If you thought that all you had to do to get a valid UK driving licence was to drive a car around for 40 minutes then you’re wrong. Learner drivers now also take 50 Who Wants to be a Millionaire style questions, which could range from what to do first at the scene of an accident to what to do when there is fog on the roads. Then you have to watch 14 clips of road hazards developing. This isn’t time to put your feet up; you now need to be constantly paying attention. It probably feels like a lot of extra pressure, but these additions to the driving test will make you a safer driver in the long run. Think about it – if you didn’t take this test then how would you know how fast your reaction speed is? This could greatly reduce the risk of involving you, or anyone else, in an accident.

The Theory Test

There’s no need to worry about taking the theory test; now more people are learning to drive now than ever before, so you can choose whatever method of revision you want. Either CDs or the ‘back to school’ version of books, the choice is yours. It really isn’t as bad as it seems once you get started… honest! Don’t let the prospect of taking the test get you down because it’s nothing like the exams you will remember when sitting in an exam hall. You have questions with multiple-choice answers – you don’t even need a pen in your hand! The test is taken via touch screens in test centres all across the country, proving that this new section of the test really does belong in the twenty first century.

Hazard Perception

Hazard perception follows directly after the theory test, you will see 14 clips that have been specially recorded and contain examples of all common types of hazards. This could be anything that can potentially happen in real life situations, from a cyclist cutting in front of you to a lorry parked on a bend. There are 5 points available on each clip and the earlier that you spot a potential hazard the more points you will be awarded. The computer records your responses when you click with the mouse as soon as you spot one. Don’t under-estimate the hazard perception part of the test; it’s a lot harder than it sounds but with some practice from the Internet or DVDs you should be fine.


We’ve got the theory side sorted, now lets think about the practical side of things. Once you’ve passed your theory and hazard perception you then have a maximum of two years to pass your practical test. Make sure you use the time wisely with your instructor, private practice sessions in your own time do help a lot too. Your instructor will tell you when you should to be entered for a practical exam. You then take the test at your local test centre in either your instructor’s car or one of your own choice. Just make sure that it’s up to MOT standard first, otherwise it won’t be eligible!

The duration of the test is approximately 40 minutes and, after a quick eyesight check, there are two ‘Show me’, ‘Tell me’ vehicle safety questions the examiner will ask you before you switch on the ignition. This gives you the chance to display how a section of the car works, which could mean checking the oil level, if the brake lights work, and so on. If you answer one or both of these questions wrong it will result in either one or two minor faults being recorded.

During the test you will encounter some hazards along a pre-planned route – just like in real life.  You will have to complete manoeuvres that you have been learning in lessons as well. These manoeuvres will consist of any two of the following:

  • Three-point-turn,
  • Parallel parking,
  • Reversing around a corner,
  • Reversing into a parking bay (if your test centre has a car-park).

You may also have to do an emergency stop, but only if you are in an appropriate location to do so. The examiner will tell you this beforehand.

Don’t panic! You’ve been learning all of this with your instructor during lessons, so you will know what to expect when the time comes. All that’s left for me to say now is to wish you the very best of luck for your driving test but, more importantly, in all your future driving – after you rip up those L Plates!