For many, the end of Term 2 will have signified the start of a seemingly endless sea of revision. Here is some advice to help you get to the other side intact… by James Blake
Having previously studied Physics at Warwick, I’ve taken my fair share of exams! As a result, I know just how difficult it can be to find your way through a seemingly endless slog of revision. To help with this, I’ve tried to draw a few pieces of advice from my own experiences. Here are my five top tips to ensure the revision period goes by as smoothly as possible…
Identify what works for you
Revision is a very personal struggle. It’s entirely possible that some of the advice I give in this post may not work for you. Hopefully by now, you’ve had enough experience to know the things that work for you and those that don’t. Do you prefer reading notes, or are you more of a visual learner? Are you better off in a quiet place, or does your concentration benefit from the din of a crowd? How long can you work for? Do you relish or dread an early start? Can you work alone, or do you need the support of friends to help you through? These are all questions that only you can answer. If you haven’t already, test them out. The only way to know how best to revise is to try everything. Of course, it helps to start this process early on; don’t leave it until the night before the exam! When you have this in place, however, you can then tailor your revision to suit you and get the most out of your time.
Although it may seem like it’ll take up some of the very little time you have to spare, a well-reasoned plan can greatly enhance the efficiency of your revision. Personally, I find it much easier to motivate myself when I have some sort of timetable to adhere to, so a revision plan was really useful to help me keep track of what I needed to do and when I needed to do it. If spontaneous spells of revision are more your thing, ignore this tip, but plans are just a good way to add a sense of order to what can otherwise be a very chaotic time.
It may seem tempting to start revision as early as possible, but it’s also important to avoid burning out. Take regular breaks, and get the most out of shorter bursts of concentration. This is a much healthier way of retaining information, as it gives you the time to reflect on what you’ve revised and store it away for later use. Be realistic, and set yourself achievable goals for each day. Try your best to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern. Whilst an all-nighter may appear favourable at times, it can lead to serious fatigue in subsequent days. Be smart with your time and avoid these as much as possible.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with lecturers if unsure about something. They might be busy, but part of their job is to teach you! In most cases, they will be the ones setting the exam, so are the best people to clarify things you don’t understand. If you can’t get hold of them, try other students. Discussing parts of the syllabus with others can highlight areas you need to work on, and provide you with different ways of viewing a problem.
Use all the resources available
Don’t limit yourself to the lecture notes. Wider reading can really help cement your understanding by exposing you to alternative methods of looking at a particular problem. If your department have made past papers available, use them! They are a fantastic resource that can shine light on the types of exam questions that tend to come up. During my own revision, I found tackling past paper questions, both individually and with friends, one of the most helpful ways of revising. If anything, they allow for an additional sense of familiarity when you come to open your own exam paper, which can help put your mind at ease. It is important to take care though! Don’t allow past questions to take up all your time. Not everything that can come up will have done so previously, so it is also essential to cover as many areas of the syllabus as you possibly can.
Hopefully I’ve been able to share a little bit of wisdom, but remember that only you can know how best to get the most out of this upcoming revision period. However you choose to study, make sure you look after yourself, and reward hard work with times of relaxation and fun. If revision is getting you down, there are countless support links available. Here are a few of the most useful:
Warwick Student Counselling Service – Warwick’s available support network
Student Minds – helpful tips for dealing with exam stress
Childline – other useful pieces of advice
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