As GCSE exams approach, it is important that all students have the right revision tools and techniques. Autistic students may find the revision process more challenging than their peers, but there are several ways to help them feel confident and prepared. Education Boutique's Director, Lucy, discusses her top 5 strategies to consider when helping autistic students prepare their revision schedule.
Break down tasks into smaller chunks
Large tasks can seem daunting and overwhelming for all young people, particularly for autistic learners. Breaking down these large tasks into smaller chunks makes them much more manageable and digestible. For example, if a student needs to revise a particular topic in its entirety, when creating their revision timetable, they can break it down into sections, such as ‘read textbook’, 'create flashcards', ‘write model answer’ and ‘test yourself’. This allows the student to focus on one section at a time rather than feeling overwhelmed by the whole task.
Engage with visual aids
Visual aids are incredibly helpful when it comes to revising topics that require memorisation of facts or information. Autistic learners often find visual aids stimulating and engaging which helps them recall information more easily when studying or sitting exams. Examples of visual aids include diagrams, flowcharts and colour-coded flashcards – this process will need to be scaffolded to begin with, allowing guidance on how to efficiently create and utilise the resources.
Multitasking is not an effective way of revising for any student but especially not for autistic learners, who require planned structure and routine in order to stay focused on one task at a time. Instead, each individual task should be completed one at a time with regular breaks in between so that the student does not become overwhelmed or distracted from the task at hand. A weekly revision timetable can also be overwhelming, so it's a good idea for an adult to present the daily tasks with clear breaks planned.
Technology has revolutionised the way we learn today and autistic learners can benefit from using apps or websites specifically designed for revision purposes like Quizlet or Khan Academy, which provide interactive activities aimed at helping students engage with topics they are revising for their GCSEs. My top tip for Quizlet Flashcard decks is to export them to 'Blooket' to gamify the flashcard revision process.
Establish study habits early on
Autistic learners often thrive when given structure and routine so developing good study habits early on will ensure success during this period of revision as well as setting up positive habits going forward in life after their GCSEs have been taken care of! Encourage students to set realistic goals based on their availability; this could include having specific days dedicated completely to studying certain topics each week or employing situational strategies, such as revising English in the living room and maths in the kitchen - a strategy that has worked extremely well for my students to reduce overwhelm about recalling revision in exams.
Revising for exams can be a stressful process for any student but particularly those who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). By following these five simple tips, you can help make sure that any learner is well prepared come exam season! From breaking down tasks into small chunks through to establishing good study habits early on; these tips will help build confidence while also providing structure and routine throughout the revision period so that they feel comfortable when sitting their GCSEs! Good luck!
About the author
As a qualified teacher, Lucy Alexandra Spencer founded Education Boutique with the hope of impacting education globally. She now travels the world as a trusted education adviser, winning Female Entrepreneur of the Year at the Thames Valley Awards 2021 and, most notably, joining the Eteach team in 2021. She is thrilled Education Boutique has become the tutoring element within the Eteach Group and feels so lucky to be able to combine her passions for teaching and educational consultancy in this dynamic partnership.