A Revising Strategy
Now it is time to think about revising – something that you might have been putting off but something that deserves a lot of attention, especially if you want to bring home those high marks.
Let's first start with the basics on revisions and better understand what it actually involves. Revision has been defined as the process of storing away information. Think of it as recording information so that you can access it later and use it for many different things – in this case, an exam, but it could also be helpful for the presentations we discussed in the last chapter.
Revision is that point in your academic career where you are committing to memory that higher level of understanding about everything you learned during lectures, research, coursework and your reading. While there are many ways to undertake revising and just as many types of students who all learn and code information differently, there are some basics that we have put together in this chapter that everyone can surely benefit from when it comes time to revise.
First off, the sagest of all advice but probably the most difficult to follow is to not worry and to not panic! If you try out this plan, you should be able to reduce those panic feelings because the preparation you make will build your confidence that you know all the material for the exam. To do this takes proper time management. Here's what you can do to make sure you give yourself ample time to revise:
- Create a revision timetable, which is a simple schedule that marks out time to revise as well as time for working, resting, and having fun to balance your life and ensure time for everything. Put in blocks of 20-minute increments for studying.
- Make sure you set at least four times each day for studying with breaks in-between for meals and rest.
- On the timetable, mark down what subjects you will study for each session. It is best to mix them up and do a little bit of each subject each day. Put the more challenging subjects on the morning agenda each day when your brain is fresher.
- Provide your timetable to someone else so they can encourage you or give it to your study partner so they can be on the same schedule. Be sure to post your own schedule on a board, door, or somewhere else where you can see and be reminded that you need to stick with it.
Now it is time to get started on your actual revision. This is what you will want to do so that you have the information ready for each revision time on our time management calendar:
- Break all the material for each subject into smaller sections around each main topic. This is the most important part as condensing it down into small, clear chunks can help create the type of notes you need that are more memorable.
- Write down all the topics you covered in that subject in the form of lists or you can start a mind map for each if you prefer that method. To get the information and do this, you can also opt for some other tactics tied to your learning preference, such as making notes in a notebook, using index or cue cards, recording your notes by speaking into a recorder and playing it back or making diagrams and pictures of each concept or topic.
- Read through or listen to each of these notes and reflect on the key points and words you have on the page or use the picture or diagram as a recall of what these key points and ideas are that are necessary to remember for the exam.
- Be sure to continually re-read or listen and reflect on these each day of your revision schedule during the set revising times. The more you go over the information and make the associations and connections, the better the information will stick for when it is needed during exam time.
Here are some other ideas that will also help you to maximise your efforts when it comes to revising:
- Revise with a friend or study group. Take turns testing each other on the information and using the memory techniques to help each other build associations and connections to what you need to learn. Just make sure to not get sidetracked with gossiping or other activities not related to revising!
- Try using some of the available print and online revision guides. These are easy to follow and use some of the same learning techniques mentioned in this eBook. Plus, they even have some video and audio portions on the online guides to help those of you that like to learn that way. Ask other students and your professors which ones come highly recommended.
- Get your mitts on some past exam papers that have similar questions. Sometimes, professors even let you have these as practice so you can try to create model answers or you can shape your study material.
- Always try to work in a distraction-free environment, so that means turn your iPod, TV, radio and mobile off during these twenty-minute revising sessions. Becoming distracted takes away from what your brain needs to focus on, which is your revising materials. You can do without these devices and distractions for a few minutes while you study and then return to them on your breaks. Of course, some of you who are auditory learners like to have headphones on or some type of music in the background. If this really works for you, then, by all means, go ahead and do it.
In providing a summary of this revising strategy, here are the main points:
- Don't leave revising to the last minute. Start early to give yourself the opportunity to review the materials many times prior to the exam.
- Segment the information into small components to allow your brain to memorize each in an easier way.
- Make a revision timetable and actually schedule each of your 20-minute study sessions with at least four per day. Consider what times of the day you most feel comfortable with studying. While morning is recommended, there are those of you who are not morning people but like to study in the afternoon or evening. Others of you may like to study outdoors in the fresh air (and preferably in the sunshine) while others like to be tucked away in a quiet room or library.
- Being organised like this will give you the time to also relax and let your brain rest and refocus on other things so that it is alert and engaged when you return to your revising schedule.
- Mix up your revision methods by incorporating many types of study aids as well as study sessions that include a friend or group as well as those that you do alone. This will also help you determine the most appropriate learning and revising method as well as mnemonic technique for you.
- Revise often and re-read or listen to your notes as much as you can. Of course, that does not mean you have to study every day. Try to give yourself one day off each week from revising. It's just like with physical exercise where your muscles need time to recuperate; your brain is a muscle that needs time to rest, rebuild, and re-energise.
- If you are struggling with certain details or concepts, do not let yourself get bogged down by this confusion. Get help and answers when you can but put it aside until you do and revise on a topic you do understand. This will also help you to not get discouraged.
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep during revision and in the midst of the exam period. This will help your brain to be alert and ready to provide the recall level you need to cover all the information you need to on the exam.
By now, you should be ready to roll out your revising strategy. We hope that all the ideas and tips mentioned here will help you achieve the marks you deserve and accelerate your academic success! Now, some final thoughts on preparation and memory techniques!