Productive vs non-productive revision methods
Mid-term 3 means only one thing- exams, stress, stress about exams, exam related stress …
Considering this, I thought I would take the opportunity to provide revision tips that have helped me in the past, as well as mentioning some habits that I am trying to avoid this time round.
1. How much time a day should you be spending revising?
I prefer to think of my days as what content I want to get through as opposed to how many hours I want to study. Sure, saying that you spent 5 hours in the library sounds impressive, but the real question is how much information you now understand. Did you spend 5 solid hours thoroughly understanding a module, or were there distractions? This is why I make a note of what I want to get through in that day, and as long as I achieve that, time doesn’t matter! I usually aim for 1-2 modules each day (depending on their CAT size as some are larger and hence have double the content). Having this attitude means that I can take breaks and even do other things with my day to de stress such as meeting a friend or going to the gym (or just watching Netflix)!
2. Should I spend all my available time revising?
Following on from the previous point, I wanted to draw attention to this as it was a major downfall of mine during A levels. Spending every minute revising from morning to evening, only breaking for meals can make you more panicked than you were to begin with. I used to find that during each day, I would try and revise too much information and, in the end, felt like I had over-studied and knew nothing! I remember one of my GCSE teachers advising to split your day into 3 parts- morning, afternoon and evening. One of these sections should be dedicated to you. So, it could mean having a lie in in the morning and spending the rest of the day revising. Alternatively, working in the morning and evening and having lunch out with a friend in the afternoon.
3. Should you just read your notes repeatedly?
While reading through your notes can mean that you obtain a thorough understanding of the topic, you can soon get bored or distracted whilst doing this. 10 weeks’ worth of content is a lot in note form! In the past I often did that, however at university I have become more of an active learner. I’ll start by skimming through my notes, putting a post-it note on pages I am unclear on, so I can quickly go back to them. Next, for key definitions, I use flashcards. You can use these at any time, even if you have a spare 10 minutes here and there. Finally, I have been re reading some of my core module textbooks and rewriting key bits of information onto paper. Rewriting concepts really helps to consolidate your knowledge, and you may understand things you didn’t before.
4. What happens if your exam is fast approaching and you’re still stuck on some topics?
Firstly, don’t panic! Out of all the topics you know well, a few that you’re not too confident on will not likely affect your grade for that exam. In this situation, you can hope it doesn’t come up on the exam and focus on what you do know (which I don’t recommend) or attempt to gain some base level understanding of the hard concepts. If your lecture notes are tripping you up, there are plenty of other resources to look to. I mostly turn to websites- all it takes is a concept explained slightly differently and you could understand it really well! You could also email your lecturer and ask for further notes. The important thing is to stay calm, and always write something in the exam.
I definitely think my revision techniques have improved since A-levels, and it’s never too late to change yours! Good luck everyone!