GCSE A-Level Revision

Music Revision Tips

Revising, that’s what students are doing now, or at least hopefully they are. Students reading this blog, you must be sick of that word “Revise”! Often you get so bored of that word that revision becomes a negative experience. These Music Revision Tips are designed to help you in your revision and prepare you for the exams.

Ten Tips for Revision

  1. Always be prepared when you sit down to work. Make sure that you have all you need in front of you when you revise – Set Works Anthology, Handouts, classnotes, pens, headphones, Set Works audio. There is nothing worse than settling down to work and finding that you don’t have something.
  2. Music Revision needs to always be about the Music! Start by listening to the set work that you are about to revise. Just listen to it and let it sink in!
  3. Music Revision should focus on specific aspects of music. Pick say Melody and focus on that for 10 minutes. Listen out for it, look for it and make sure you can use it effectively.
  4. Focus on what you are going to be asked to do in the exam so that your mind is prepared. It might be that you consider how you would describe certain elements. Alternatively, you might think about comparing one set work to another. Use exam style questions to help you in your revision.
  5. It might help you to watch videos of live performances of the set works. What I find is that it is easier to spot instruments, understand key moments and fully embrace aspects of the piece such as playing techniques and instrumentation. Use activities like this to break up revision and make it more bearable! There are some great LSO Live videos – https://www.youtube.com/user/Lso
  6. Music Revision can be positive! Try to always keep in mind what you already know. It is good to look at the positives in revision and remember that you know an awful lot. Start a revision session by noting down everything you already know about that set work. Not only does this start you off in a positive way, but it also identifies what you need to focus on during your revision.
  7. In the GCSE & A-Level exam you will have to write longer responses in an essay style. Why not try doing this very thing during your revision so that you get used to how much you can write in a given period of time. Exam technique is crucial especially for the A-Level exam where you often have more freedom to use the time as you wish.
  8. Wider & Unfamiliar listening are both very much part of the GCSE & A-Level. Listening to music is something that you must do as much as possible. The good news is that you can listen to music whilst you revise for other subjects. My tip is to prepare a playlist of targeted listening so that you cover different genres, styles and composers. Whilst revising for another subject you can then stick some music on and kill two birds with one stone!
  9. I always find that talking about a topic with someone helps you to get to know it. Revising with a friend is one tip I would highly recommend. It will get you thinking about how well you know a piece of music and the discussion will help you prepare for the longer answer questions. Revise with friends for some of the time but make sure that you have a plan and don’t get into chatting off topic. You might like to prepare an unfamiliar listening task for a friend so that you can help them to prepare for that section.
  10. The target language in Music Revision should be music. Key terms are crucial in a music exam. Ensuring that you can describe different elements of music using key terminology will help you reach the top marks. Describing melody, harmony, texture and the other key elements does rely on you being able to create mental multiple choice lists of words that are linked to these elements.


Hopefully the ideas above will not be new. Revision can be tough, but making it a positive experience will really help in the lead up to exams. Remember, you probably know more than you realise and also lots of the hard work has already been done with the controlled assessment/coursework. Stay positive, stay healthy and don’t let things get on top of you!

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