Magdeleine is a second year Social Science student who shares some of her tips on revising for exams.
With end of the year exams approaching, I know I am not the only one starting to wonder how on earth I am going to manage to learn all I have to know, whilst completing the coursework I have due in the incoming weeks. I am still learning how to deal with all of it, but hopefully, the advice that I’ve gathered here will help you – and me – to make the most of that degree!
We all know it, when it comes to revision, the most important thing is to start early. Yes, it’s so easy to procrastinate and we all want to do it! But going to those lectures and going through notes when it’s supposed to be done will get us a long way when it comes to revising for exam. Making sure that revision time is actually dedicated to revision and not learning sounds obvious but I’m the first guilty of not doing this enough.
Once you’ve gone to lectures, going through notes regularly is an easy task, and that will get you a long way. We’ve all been through it: putting a piece of paper in the middle of a massive pile of more lecture notes and completely forgetting about it until revision week – and by then, that pile has become so daunting that going through it is more than unappealing. So, start looking at them now, and the process will be much smoother.
Obviously, a revision tip blog would not be complete if it didn’t mention planning. Knowing when you’re going to revise will ensure you don’t realise 48 hours before the exam that you focused too long on that other unit that was stressing you out, and now you don’t have time to go through the remaining material. It’s also easier to motivate yourself to get up in the morning when you know what you’re going to be doing that day. I’ve definitely had days when work was too overwhelming, and didn’t know where to start – so I just didn’t do anything. Planning means you’ve done all the thinking in advance.
On the topic of doing the thinking in advance, I find it helpful to have a routine during revision period. It’s important to reduce the amount details you will be thinking about that are unrelated to your degree. Knowing when to get up, when you’re going to cook and what time you’re going to stop working, having all these details sorted beforehand and doing it over and over again will make your life much easier. Having a routine also ensures that you give your brain a signal for when you should start working every day: this should help you have a more efficient day.
If you’re reading this and thinking that it’s too late for you to have any efficient revision in, don’t worry. Whatever the time of the year it is, there is an important thing to remember about revision: prioritise. When working last minute, know what the most important thing to focus on is. Even when you have 24 hours left, take ten minutes to plan your revision and know what you want to go through, it’ll avoid that panic most of us are quite familiar with.
Everyone has different revision techniques. Whilst I can usually be found somewhere on level 5 of the library, next to my study buddy and writing up essay plans over and over again, I sometimes need change. Doing the same thing every-day can be quite demotivating. Working from my room, from a café or outside, discussing content with somebody, doing a mock exam or testing myself orally, working with someone else… Changing it up helps me not go crazy!
And finally, a key rule for efficient revision is to know when to take breaks and to stay healthy. Don’t be too ambitious. Yes, it’s satisfying to see a full planner but it’s also probably unrealistic. This year, our Easter holiday will be the beginning of revision period. Whether you’re home, staying in Bath or going on vacation, enjoy some time off to take a breather, see your friends and family and just relax. Having a break from revision will ensure you’re more efficient when you actually start revising. Make sure you also stay hydrated, that you spend time outside and have some form of physical activity. Keeping your body healthy will help your brain be sharper and more focused.
Look out for those helpful tips on managing stress during revision period, for more ideas view this blog on exam stress!