Six Common Revision Techniques to Prepare You for Exams Season
It’s the end of Term 2 at the University of Warwick. Schools and colleges are fast approaching their Easter Break.
The time has come to intensify revision efforts to prepare for exams season.
The Easter break is an opportune time to catch-up on work. Over the last few months, you have probably completed mock exams. How did they go? Self-reflection is very important to identify gaps in knowledge. You can also identify areas for improvement with your study technique. In this blog, I share some common revision techniques that you can adopt to support your studies.
My preferred revision technique is creating flashcards. It’s often said that if you write something out multiple times, you are more likely to remember it. Flashcards are small pieces of paper/card that allow you to concisely write notes on. For example, for A-Level History, my flashcards included important dates and summaries of key arguments. At University, I use flashcards to revise Economics, where I write-out key concepts and terms and then test myself to see if I can memorise definitions. Overall, flashcards are useful portable notes- they fit in your pocket and you can revise with them anywhere and with anyone!
For the more visual learners, you have scope to creatively brainstorm your ideas. Here, you can create them on potential exam questions and have branches reflecting the different sections you would write to answer a question. Otherwise, you can summarise a topic. For example, for Geography, the mind-maps I created were on case studies, where different colours represented different factors e.g. causes, effects and responses.
Ever wondered why you seem to remember song lyrics more than facts and figures? Maybe turning your notes into a song or hearing yourself reciting key information (melodically?) can help. You could go for a run with your headphones on and revise by listening to yourself reciting notes.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you make notes on OneNote or Word. Why not find creative ways of presenting your notes that you can use interactively to revise. PowerPoint is a popular tool used to create slides with notes. You can print these off later too. Having a slideshow format can help organise your notes. You can use the transitions/animations to do answer reveals or step-by-step graph formations that you can use to test you.
No matter what subject you are doing, you need to be familiar with what the exam will entail. This involves looking at and attempting past questions. For many subjects including Mathematics, this is the most effective method.
Practice! Practice! Practice! The more questions you do, the better your exam technique will become.
You can understand the time pressures and exam conditions expectations so that the real exam feels the same as your practice one.
If you are doing essay-based subjects, then writing essay-plans are an effective technique. It’s a way of applying your notes to a past-question. Indeed, if you notice patterns in questions or themes, you can pre-empt what might come up. The essay plans can be shown to your tutor/teacher and I would highly recommend you get as much advice and feedback as possible to maximise your grades. Go one-step further in perhaps writing the essay for your own practice. This will enable you to understand how much you can complete in the time and have practice for the real thing!
The best way to prepare is to start early.
Create a revision timetable over the Easter break. Split the day up, rather than revising in one big session. This will ensure that you diversify your revision amongst topics and take breaks to prevent being worn out. Another important thing to note is to remember to understand the exam specification. The specification is an outline of the expectations of what you are supposed to know for a module/topic that can be examinable. Did you have a cancelled lecture/lesson? Have you forgotten or missed some important content? If it’s on the specification, then it can come up, so ensure you prioritise catching-up.
Above, I have mentioned some common revision techniques. As you would have noticed, I used a variety dependent on the subject. Spend some time exploring them and identifying what works best. I will be writing another blog soon on addressing the exams season itself- keep an eye out! Let me know below what method works best for you and how you get on when trying some of these techniques.