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
Whilst revision is quite obviously the most important part of your study regime, there are factors of exam season that you need to plan out carefully and ensure you give consideration towards. Most importantly, I think it is vital to ensure that you spend your breaks wisely and your time outside of studying well, to ensure you get a good balance of time management.
It’s very easy to get caught up in revision, do it for hours straight just to ‘get it out of the way’, but it is far more beneficial to allow yourself small breaks in between. Personally, I like to do revision sessions of an hour, followed by a 15 minute break, however some people may want to do 20-40 minutes, with a 5-10 minute break; it all depends on your endurance.
However, just taking a break in itself is not enough, you need to consider how to spend that break. If you do your work, then sit there scrolling through social media for 20 minutes, or just stay sat there watching a few YouTube videos, that is not going to help you (sorry!). The best thing you can do is make your breaks productive too, not just your studying. That way, when you come back after your break, your mind is still working hard, and you haven’t yet fallen into a downward spiral of procrastination.
Firstly, use this as an opportunity to re-energise; get a snack and a drink. This can give you a burst of well-needed energy to progress to your next topic of revision, and will stop you from feeling sleepy and unproductive. I recommend staying away from caffeinated drinks such as coffee and energy drinks, as they aren’t actually going to help you. As well as being unhealthy in general (and it’s important to stay healthy during exams), the amount of energy they fill you with is going to be too much; you want to be alert, not bouncing off the walls. I recommend tea, especially herbal, as it has lower to no caffeine levels, and will give you a refreshed feeling, whilst also keeping you calm…or simply water. If you aren’t a huge water drinker, try flavoured, non-carbonated waters, as these will also do the job of keeping you hydrated, which is vital for the brain’s attention and its retention of information, which is…well…the whole aim and purpose of revising!
Next, you may want to consider some light physical exercise and movement. Sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time can tighten the muscles, which can lead to soreness and tension which will reflect on your attitude towards revision. If our bodies are tense, especially the neck and back - which is common with bending over a desk revising - this can lead to irritability, headaches, and stress; all of which can easily be avoided by gentle exercise and stretches. My personal favourite? Yoga. Not only do I do it every morning and night to give a clear, focused mindset before and after a day of study, but I also like to do it in between to keep my mind and body focused and relaxed, and remove any unwanted stress. The best thing about this is that you don’t even need a yoga mat or previous experience. Simply use your floor and search up a yoga routine tutorial. On YouTube, there are plenty of 5-10 minute tutorials to help guide you and that differ in grades; for people who are less flexible, or for people who want to focus on mindset over body, or vice versa.
Finally, do take the time to step away from studying and socialise! After weeks of studying by yourself in your room, school or library, it can be really beneficial to speak and communicate with people, whether it be the people you live with, or someone who lives nearby, or a phone call to a friend! It may even be playing with your pet for a while, just something that involves socialisation and communication with other people is great, because it takes studying off your mind for a while and puts you in a great headspace. A happier you is what makes revision successful!