With January exams looming, and the festivities of Christmas and New Years over, you may be finding it hard to develop a consecutive plan of getting prepared for exams and organising your revision material. The following tips will be helpful for students who want to get prepared properly.
Preparation for revision
- Organise yourself early
Slow and consecutive revision of the material during a long period of time is more productive than a convulsive bustling in the last days before the exams. Make a schedule of all forthcoming exams with dates, locations and volume of material to be revised in advance. By making such a plan and following it you will feel like you have more control and it should help to avoid any last-minute panic.
- Mix up the disciplines
When making a revision timetable, determine the subjects that you are more interested in and those you are not going to be seriously prepared to. After that, plan your revision efforts so that interesting and less interesting subjects are mixed up and an interesting subject is followed by a less interesting one. Thus, you will not get bored for a long time and revision of a more interesting subject will be a kind of reward. Include time for regular breaks too.
- Find a comfortable place for studying
Make sure the space you are going to be revising in is comfortable enough and allows for concentration. This should be an isolated room with sufficient amount of light where all text books, notes, computer and other gadgets (if needed) can be placed.
The most powerful enemy of concentration is noise. Therefore, you should avoid the places where other people are doing something. If the chosen place is at home, it would be better to find a room that other family members rarely use.
It is also important to follow a healthy diet and drink enough water, since brain activity takes a lot of energy which needs to be replenished.
- Take regular breaks
Quality of revision is prevalent over quantity in this case. This means that fruitful work during a few hours a day is better than sitting with books all day long without breaks. Our ability to concentrate weakens with time and focus can sometimes be maintained for no longer than an hour. After that, you may need a break to re-energise yourself.
Some people prefer to spend their break sitting alone with a cup of tea, or meditating. Others, on the contrary, prefer to communicate with relatives or friends. Do not forget physical activities as well. This should be at least a quiet walk to let your brain stay in focus and avoid blood congestion. However, remember to avoid physical overloading, since the body might become tired and lazy after that and it will be harder to concentrate on revising.
Exam revision techniques
- Do not follow the clock rigorously
Following the time of revision is important but too rigorous clock watching may not be the best strategy. If you tell yourself that you will be revising within the next two hours but cannot concentrate and just keep staring at your watch waiting until it’s over, the results will be fruitless.
Instead, it may be better to use parts of the material or certain topics instead of the time spent for revision. When you move from topic to topic, you do several important things. First, you see when the topic is over and what you have to do today instead of staring at watches. Second, you see the overall progress in the discipline, how many topics you have already revised and how many of them are left. Third, you can make breaks when one topic is done so that you do not lose sense and not forget what was before the break.
Another way of revision may be determining SMART goals, namely the goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related. By doing so, you can easily estimate your progress when the revision time is over.
- Revise actively
Only reading textbooks and notes may be of low efficiency since only one channel – a visual one – is engaged in this process. At the same time, reading the material aloud, recording it and listening to it may be more effective for those who prefer audible information. Writing cheat sheets is also effective, since tactile sensations are engaged. In addition, making chains of associations may also facilitate memorisation of the material. The common principle is when several channels of perception are engaged, the information is assimilated more effectively.
- Create key word lists and flash cards
Other ways of remembering the information may be lists of key words and flash cards. When making the lists of key words, you link the entire paragraphs or parts of the text to only several words, which help you to restore the key information in memory. When you make such cards for all topics you can revise or re-revise the material in any place you go, without taking the textbooks and notes with you. Similarly, it is productive to rewrite the notes using the key words. When you rewrite the material, you reconstruct the logic and understand how the results were attained and conclusions were made.
- Ask for advice
If you cannot understand or assimilate some part of the material, do not hesitate to ask for advice. The lecturer or tutor can always explain this part of the material, while senior students may tell you some “lifehacks” or non-traditional ways of understanding or remembering the material.
And always remember – if you cannot understand the material from the first time, you should try alternative sources of information. If you need any help with exam notes or revision, we are here to help.