How to revise for a Politics exam
When I was in my first year the biggest challenge was knowing how to revise. I finally discovered the best techniques for me during my A-levels, but those methods just did not work in my first year. I can no longer rely on mark schemes, examiners reports or sometimes even teachers predicting what questions the exam board will select.
Now, in my final year, a question that first years understandably often ask is “how do I actually approach my revision?”. A 3-hour exam was unheard of during GCSEs and A-levels, and knowing how best to prepare for it is hugely important.
There is no set technique which will work for every module.
A really theoretical module will have a slightly different way of studying than a largely empirical module. Find out what the module requires (the criteria should be available on Moodle). Nevertheless, there are some tips that will apply regardless of the module.
Read through seminar questions.
People often forget these exist, which I am also guilty of, until exam time when I realise just how amazing they are. They help to direct you towards the sorts of topics you should be considering and even potential ideas on what the exam questions may ask. If you can answer the seminar questions in depth, you are probably well prepared for any exam question on the topic.
Whether it’s answering the questions in bullet points, or forcing your friends and family to engage in a discussion on the questions – find out what works for you, and do it.
Make sure you understand the lecture material.
The lectures should act as a foundation for your understanding of the topic. They should not be used as the sole resource for your revision. Nevertheless, it is really important you go through the lecture material before you start doing your readings so that you can ensure you are on the right track.
This sounds a lot easier than done. During A-levels, you could get away with relying on the textbook and class material. However, at university, it is expected that you also do your own reading.
The reading list for the module is usually a really good starting point. Read the core readings and a few of the further readings. Make sure you understand the main arguments for each scholar. Then, you can start to branch out to other research via Google Scholar or using the references from the readings you have already done.
Saying that, do not read every single word from every single reading you do. This is especially relevant for exams where you do not have the time to replicate every small detail from each scholar. Be selective. Sometimes reading the abstract/introduction and conclusion is enough to understand the author’s arguments. I like to read the first line of each paragraph to decide whether it is worth reading the rest of the text which also helps.
Watching youtube videos can also help.
Especially when motivation is super low, youtube can be a good starting point to ease yourself into revision again. Watch a few videos discussing the topic, or some lectures. Sometimes googling the topic and searching via “news” can also help to see the relevance of the topic.
Shanita 🙂 xo