Exam results are out tomorrow so after reflecting, I thought I’d share my first university exam experience for my Business Management degree and my tips on revision. First and foremost I DO NOT recommend cramming for exams. It’s not a good idea. Particularly with one day to spare. I’ve never done that…
With Christmas holidays passed, lots of fun had and very little thought on exams, let alone revision, I was feeling happy. Once revision week hit and I sat down to get to work though, I can tell you I was not feeling quite so upbeat. I hadn’t realised just how much I had to cover for four exams. So with eight days to go until my first exam, I devised a plan.
I’ve become pretty good at revision over the last few years and worked out my best way of getting as much as possible done when I was doing my A-Levels. But I’m also one of those people that is far more productive under pressure so you’ll usually find me revising best when I have as little time as possible. However, I feel like my revision plan and tips will work the same whether your limited or unlimited on time (good on you responsible people).
In my opinion, the absolute key to successful revision is organisation and compartmentalisation. Allocate a day exclusively to one subject, and write a list of every single topic that could be included in the exam. Add to this list of topics the key points/ideas in each topic. And, voila, you have yourself a revision checklist.
My second step of revision is topic maps. I grab a wad of different colour paper, grab my 18 assorted colour sharpies (although after good use, only 12 remain) and get to it. I have a map for each topic, and outline or illustrate the key points in each. I aim to fill an entire A4 page but I do have very small writing so if you prefer bigger, double up on paper or invest in some A3. You can make these maps any which way you want, as a spider diagram, as a chart or just a scribbled mess, whatever works best for you. I personally start with a list of definitions for each topic, then divide up the key points and order them on the map.
The number one tip I would recommend is to use colours. Lots of colours. It sounds ridiculously childish or like those geography lessons at high school, where you’d just sit and colour in maps for an hour (please say I wasn’t the only one who had to do this). But colours really do help you remember things, even if you don’t realise it.
I also find I work a lot better when I hand write things. I type my notes up throughout the year, from lectures and seminars, but when it comes to revision, hand writing for some reason sticks the information firmly in my brain. I don’t know whether it’s from the reading-writing repetition or just the familiarity of my own writing, but it works for me.
Once these maps are complete, that’s the main bulk of your revision done. If you have time, do some practice papers with and without notes. If it’s an essay based exam, write up some essay plans for potential questions based on your maps. You can also make acronyms for all sorts of different information. Or if you’re super short on time, just read through them. I always read through them about 30 minutes before my exam too, especially the parts I struggle to remember, just so they’re fresh in my brain.
Revision-wise, this is what I recommend and it works wonders for me. I found my exams went okay, there were no surprises and nothing I couldn’t answer with some level of confidence. Retrospectively, I should have probably started revising earlier but I’m sure I’ll be saying that for the next three years.
It also goes without saying that sleep and water are so important!! Keep rested and keep hydrated and your concentration levels will soar, I promise.
I hope you find some or all of these tips useful and good luck for any upcoming exams!