Our monthly feature offering advice on study techniques & tips. If you have any tips or tricks that you want to share, simply let Rosie know at firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to revision, the most important thing is to tailor your revision schedule to your personal work style and ethic. No one, standardised revision pattern will work for everyone, and so it is very easy to fall into the trap of comparing your revision to other people’s and try to do as they do. Similarly, it’s easy to feel as though your own revision is not sufficient enough; you aren’t putting enough hours in, you aren’t using efficient techniques, that it will never be enough. It’s too easy to put a downer on our studying by telling ourselves “I should be doing this” and “I should know more than this”. However, what I think is more important than evaluating what you should be doing is considering what you should not be doing, as it is more uplifting and confidence building to tell yourself “It’s GOOD I’m not doing this” as opposed to saying “It’s BAD I am not doing that”.
1. Don’t revise if you feel you can’t
We all go into that classic state where we swear on our lives that revision will be the death of us all and is the most heinous task ever placed before us. But when we sit down and make ourselves do it, it actually goes fine and we are more than capable. However, occasionally there will be times, perhaps just an evening or day here and there, where trying to revise becomes a forced activity, and that is not good. Even if it means sacrificing a 2-hour revision session after school, it will be more beneficial to come back to the planned material the next day, or later on, when you feel willing to revise. Forcing yourself to revise will be totally ineffective, trust me; no info will go in, it won’t stick, and you will have got yourself stressed and worked up in exchange for nothing. So take a break when you really need one, and don’t force yourself to revise to the point where the want not to revise, becomes a need not to revise.
2. Don’t get over-indulged in stationery
We’ve all been there and done it; exam season is coming up, and therefore what better excuse is there to spend an ugly amount on cute stationery? Animal-shaped rubbers when all our exams are written in pen, funky shaped bottles of Tipp-Ex even though its banned from exams, and those sparkly glitter pens that may make you feel like royalty, but they NEVER WORK and smudge like crazy. We become so indulged in getting the coolest stationery that we possibly can and making everything look as beautiful as possible, that our revision has lots of style and zero substance. What you really should be looking for are some nice pens that you find easy to write with if you want to go down the stationery route as a means of improving revision. If you don’t like biros then get some gel pens. If you don’t like gel pens, get some roller-balls! The point is, when you are in the exam and under stress, the only stationery that you should be worrying about is the pen, because if it doesn’t work, or stresses you out because it looks gross on the page, then it isn’t going to make you feel any less stressed. Whilst it is quality of content in your exam and not the visual presentation that counts, it can be relaxing to see your work visually presentable. No amount of apple-scented rubbers or bobble-head pencils will save you, ever.
3. Don’t jump in without a plan
You will know what you do and don’t need to focus your revision on I’m sure (and if you don’t, ummm you should probably get a shift on!). However, the one big mistake a lot of people do is jump straight in, plan their revision 20 seconds before starting it, and end up realising right before the exam that, after all these weeks of preparation, you missed out a few units because you didn’t plan ahead. I don’t mean start planning in April, and account for every single second up until exams, but I will sit down on a Sunday evening, plan two pieces of revision for each school day and four for each weekend day, and leave a few blank spaces on my timetable should things change. That way you have structure, but can be flexible if needs be, which can alleviate stress and give a sense of control.
4. Don’t cram
I don’t even need to explain this one to you, just please, please, please promise me you won’t cram the night before. Please.