There is really no ‘right’ way to revise as different techniques work for different students. However, there are definitely some essential things to do during the exam season, as well as some essential don’ts. You’ll already know that it isn’t a good idea to go out the night before an exam, but here are some great tips for making your exams to go as smoothly as possible.
Get up early
With no lectures to attend and perhaps very little in the way of other commitments, it can be hard to keep to a regular sleeping pattern, but waking up at 2pm to revise is one of the worst things you can do; especially when most exams are at 9am a couple of weeks down the line. Try and force yourself out of bed in the mornings and have some breakfast. You’ll actually have time to procrastinate without panicking.
Break down tasks
Break down the module into key areas of study and focus on 3 or 4. It’s a great idea to make yourself a timetable, organised by topics, and try to accomplish revising a few of them per day; working towards a smaller goal can be motivational. Use the module guides handed out at the start of the year to plan your revision schedule. Then check any marking criteria or other university correspondence about the exam you may have been given to see what you need to do to pass the exam.
Staying at home to revise can be more relaxing, but there are often too many opportunities for procrastination; whether it’s spending 20 minutes chatting to your housemates when you only went downstairs for a cup of tea, or playing music too loud and singing along instead of revising. Head down to the library, where your opportunities to sing and dance are diminished, or go to the park with just a notepad and a textbook, you’ll find your revision is a lot more successful.
Revise with others
Whilst this can be dangerous and potentially distracting, if you really try and focus the session and not mess about too much, having discussions on topics can be really, really helpful and can provide alternative points of view that could make you view your subject in a new, more interesting way. The key here is in knowing when to leave, as after a couple of hours everyone will just want to mess around. It’s also important to pick the right mates; don’t have a revision session with the party animals as it’ll only end badly.
Going for a run in the morning or heading to the gym can provide a welcome break from the monotony of revision and will also help to boost your energy levels. The revision period is a great opportunity to get fit, with its flexible schedule.
Revise in small, easy to digest chunks, rather than longer blocks, and you’ll actually fit more revision into the day and into your own head. Having regular breaks means that you’ll process the information more effectively, and taking 5 minutes can let you mull things over and internalize. Regularly schedule breaks rather than just randomly deciding to go on one as otherwise you’ll just spend all your time procrastinating with nothing to aim for.
Mix it up
If you’ve got a couple of exams to prepare for, use this to your advantage and mix up what subjects you revise on any given day. Don’t allot only one specific subject to a day, but keep it fresh and switch the subjects around regularly to keep yourself stimulated and engaged.
If you have any queries, talk to your personal tutor, programme leader, or the Study Skills Team.