It’s that time of the semester—that time which we’ve been pushing out of our minds and when procrastination is at its highest.
Exams are the worst. You barely have time to prepare for the number of papers awaiting you—especially if all of them are scheduled in the same week, or worse… on the same days!
To help you out in that stressful period, I’ve compiled 11 exam revision tips that worked for me. And you better get started on that revision as soon as you’re done here!
1. Start early in the morning
I would have said to start revising early in terms of days, but we are all guilty of procrastinating to the last minute and I would like to give a chance to anyone revising the day before an exam. Yes, it is possible, as long as you get to start as early as you can: in the morning.
Besides, your mind is fresh and most active at that time. Fun fact: coffee is most effective if you drink it at least one hour after you wake up because, within that one hour, your brain produces its own stimulants.
2. Yet, be flexible about your revision schedule
If you’ve made up your mind to wake up early and revise as soon as the sun hits your face, don’t be discouraged if you end up waking up in the afternoon. It can feel like you’ve wasted a whole day and that it’s no use revising anymore at this point, but NOPE, you’re wrong! There is still time for you to study.
Don’t let unpredictable events spoil the rest of your day. Be flexible. Adapt.
3. Use the Pomodoro technique
Don’t know what it is? Take a task. Set your timer to 25 minutes. Study for those 25 minutes, then stop for a 5-minute break sharp. Then, study for 25 more minutes. Then, stop for 5. At the fourth cycle, you can take a longer break of 20 minutes.
Of course, these numbers are flexible. You can adapt this technique to your own revision methods.
4. Write stuff down
Revision means reviewing what you’ve done during the semester. But merely reading the materials—even if you’re familiar with them—won’t help you retain them properly for the exam. In fact, I tend to space out or think of something else if I only read my book.
Instead, I take notes down. I summarise what I’ve learnt in my own words. I make bullet points. I write the keywords. Whatever you’re revising, write it.
5. Don’t waste time perfecting your notes
Should I say more? It’s no use making your notes ‘pretty’ if you’re going to run out of time to actually revise.
Keep it simple and clear so that you can glance back at them at the last minute and understand the gist of each topic you’ve covered.
6. Practice past papers
This is a classic, but we’re sometimes so immersed in reading all the materials and making notes that we run out of time to practice past papers. Yet, these are even more important.
Pro tip: if you’re revising at the last minute, do the past papers first, with your notes and materials on the side. See where you struggle the most—these are the topics you should focus later on. Sometimes, time is so precious that you can’t study everything. So choose wisely.
7. Learn the objectives of each chapter
If you’re lost and you don’t know where to start, read the objectives of your subject. What are you supposed to keep in mind in that chapter? By the end of that topic, what should you have learnt? These questions can guide you in your revision.
Textbooks are filled with a lot of information, but if you can distinguish between the important and non-important ones, you are good to go.
8. Be in the right environment
Be where everyone is revising and where no one is gossiping. Be in a quiet area, not in the chill-out area. Be in a space where you would be motivated to study. It could even be in a cafe.
And from my experience, it’s better to be alone.
9. Teach someone else
However, you can also be productive in a group, as long as everyone is serious about not failing their exams. The best way to make use of that urge to talk with your friends is to simply teach them what you’re learning. Then, encourage them to do the same. It may even spark fruitful conversations!
Teaching is really the best form of learning.
10. Make up a reward system
At the end of the day, you deserve a treat. That is, as long as you’ve been trying your best to work hard. As long as you’ve reached your revision goals.
If you’ve studied all day, feel free to go out for dinner with some friends, get some ice cream, and maybe buying something nice for yourself (mini shopping trips?). It will feel good… and it will motivate you to come back tomorrow and work as hard.
11. Sleep well before the exams
Sleeping is very important because it allows everything you have studied to be transferred to your long-term memory. Doing so will help you retain the information you’ve collected. It will then be ‘available for retrieval’ when you need it for your exam.
So please, make time for sleep. At least 6 hours. Okay, 5?
What are your personal exam revision tips? Share them in the comments below!
D. K. Waye.
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