Exams will often cover material from the whole semester or year, so it is important to start as soon as possible. Begin by mapping out your exams, drawing up a realistic revision timetable, working backwards from your exam dates and allowing time for the unforeseen. Remember that things will change, so you will need to be flexible and review your timetable regularly. Within this schedule you should also incorporate time for breaks, so that your revision is focused and you have opportunities to reflect. Think carefully about how you can best reward yourself during these breaks to ensure you stay motivated.
Ways of Learning
A good starting point when planning your revision is to consider how you learn and develop varied and appropriate revision strategies. VARK is a useful questionnaire that helps you evaluate which learning styles appeal and may work best for you. An awareness of your preferred ways of learning can you to identify relevant revision techniques and try out new ways of revising, for example:
- Visual: try mind mapping, colour coding, using diagrams, creating flow charts and time lines
- Read/write: try rewriting notes, condensing notes onto flash cards, writing sample answers
- Auditory: try reading notes aloud, recording key information and listening back, working with others to explain topics to one another
- Kinaesthetic: try using card sorts, watching videos (visit Kaltura for some ideas), practising and applying techniques
Variety is the Spice of Life!
Remember: there is more than one way to revise well. Try out different things to see what works for you and try to avoid getting stuck in a rut in your revision. By mixing it up, using a variety of techniques and drawing on different methods and approaches to learning, you will help to keep it interesting and sustain your motivation through to the exam date.
Visit the SSiD examinations webpages for up-to-date info about your exams and to find out more advice and ideas on how to revise effectively. For more information about dealing with exam stress, visit the Exam Anxiety pages to find out more about how to stay on top of things during exam period and the support that is on offer.
Study Skills Hacks: Exam Revision Top Tips
This short video covers the following:
- Developing revision timetables
- Setting priorities
- Alternating between topics
- Revising with course mates
- Practising your handwriting
- Reflecting on your understanding of the topic
- Setting realistic revision goals
For more information and ideas on Exam revision, read more below:
For many students, the revision period is the most difficult part of any exam process. With much to cover in a short period of time, the task can seem overwhelming. Careful planning and appropriate revision strategies can help you to make the most of the time available, giving you the opportunity to prepare thoroughly and get the most out of yourself on the day.
The Pomodoro Technique
What has a tomato got to do with exam revision? The Pomodoro technique is a time management strategy that uses a short interval timer to encourage focused bursts of concentration on a task broken up by regular short breaks.
The original technique worked on a basis of 25 minutes 'on'; 'five minutes 'off' with a longer break every 3-4 cycles. Try using this technique with an online timer to make sure you are not distracted by your smartphone or emails during your focused activity and reward yourself with a short break on a regular basis. This process of effort and respite will allow you to make the most of your ability to concentrate and allow time for your revision to sink in during the breaks.
You may not have time to revise everything on a module in great depth, so be selective about what you study; revise the things that are most important and that you have least knowledge of. Try to distil your notes to key words, phrases or terms and consider which topics apply to more than one module.
Explaining and discussing subject content with other course mates can also be a useful strategy, but try to work in a group study area at university rather in your front room.
Past papers are another useful study resource (these can be found on MOLE or in the library). Try to brainstorm answers or make outline plans for as many questions as possible; even time yourself writing some of these answers. This can be particularly useful in helping you to think critically about the information you are learning. At university it is not enough to learn and repeat information, you need to demonstrate analytical thinking and understanding.
In preparing for an exam, don’t forget that your paper will be handwritten, so practice this skill and make sure that your writing is legible as examiners will not award marks if they cannot read your work.
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