Exams are just around the corner! It’s the end of term and time for celebrations of a sort as you all breathe a sigh of relief that another year is done. Phew! What’s more, summer is just around the corner. At last! But…hang on a minute…you can’t quite stop yet. Before you kick back to truly relax it’s time to start revising all that materials for those all-important exams.
Argh!!!! I can almost hear the collective groan of reluctance reverberating through cyberspace! But you know it’s got to be done. One last push to the end.
No sweat! Just one final slog to the finish line and then you’re free. Free to go off on holiday and spend that quality time with friends and family that perhaps you’ve found yourself having to sacrifice over the last few months. So, make sure the sacrifice is worth it and get cracking on your revision. No better time than now to start.
So, here are just 4 simple steps you can put into action now to ensure you are well on the road to exam success.
1) Get organised. The first step is to put your stuff in order. It may sound obvious but it really is the key to a successful revision programme. Make sure you can locate the books, notes, saved articles, video materials and references that you have worked hard to put together during your course. You have to be able to reach them and refer to them easily. You don’t want to be wasting precious time looking through pages and pages of notes or searching wildly and desperately through your computer files each time you need to find a specific piece of information. That time you save means you’ll be much more productive and it’ll even give you chance to squeeze in some free time and a catch up or two with your mates between revision sessions.
2) Create a plan. The second step is to draw up a revision plan. And this means to actually go to your diary and block out the days and times you are going to dedicate to revision. If you use a paper diary, highlight the time slots if necessary so that they stands out from the other appointments and ‘things to do’. Then you’re not likely to forget. If you use a digital diary, you could even set the phone alarm for the allotted revision sessions for the first week, until you start to get into the routine. Just the act of diarising will help you to actually do it and not get distracted by other stuff. It doesn’t matter if you have to adjust it later. It will have already entered your consciousness as something you will be doing for the next few weeks.
3) Set time limits. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to revise for hours on end. Cramming might be what we think we’re supposed to do but believe me it doesn’t make a lot of sense long term. Filling up all your time with revision will likely cause your stress levels to spike and is not good for your physical or mental well-being. In cramming mode you are not going to be putting on your best performance. Plus studies show that when we cram we forget what we have ‘learnt’ almost immediately after the pressure is off. You might pass the exam, but at what cost to your long term knowledge and personal well-being? Better to set specific time limits. For example, revise for 2 or 3 hours in the morning and then have a break. Revising that way, you are more likely to retain the information and the breaks will give you the mental space to think critically about what you have reviewed, leading to a deeper understanding of the issues.
4) Enjoy the process. At the risk of sounding impractical and overly idealistic I nevertheless strongly believe that we must aim to enjoy the task of revising. We are culturally conditioned to see revision as something negative – something that’s a pain and that gets in the way of the nicer stuff we’d rather do. But if we just change the way we think about it we can teach ourselves to enjoy going over our notes. Acknowledge that not only will this help you to pass your exam but the process will also help you towards longer term economic, cognitive and social benefits too. What you’re learning may be helping you to create the set of knowledge needed for a job, acts as a mental gymnastics that keeps us engaged with the world and people around us.