Thursday, 19 July 2012

Revision Techniques: Don'ts

Now here is the sequel to my previous post! The 10 Don'ts when you revise!


1. Work with your laptop on

Personally, I find revising without my laptop on almost an impossible task. If I'm at my desk, I find myself always leaving my laptop on (but on one side) while doing my work on a different side of my desk. Sure enough, this almost always leads to me checking Facebook, my email, looking at some sports news, going on YouTube etc. and I end up doing no work at all! This is the pure evil of procrastination folks.

The thing to do is turn your laptop off. This is easier said than done, and I completely agree with you. Like I said, I find it almost impossible. What you can do however, is go do your revision work somewhere else. Use your school library. Go downstairs to the dining room. Just somewhere with no access to a computer! And leave your mobile phone while you're at it.

2. Leave it to the last minute

If the exam is in the summer, I start my revision in the Easter holidays. I wouldn't start revising too early, as often is the case, you end up exhausted by the time your exam comes, and you have reached your peak a long time ago. I've had early peaking before, and trust me, it is not pleasant.  You reach a stage where you glance over your revision notes to, because you think you have learnt everything, and when you actually do a past paper, you can't remember the stuff. This is a nightmare, and is extremely hard to put right!

However, you don't want to leave it to the last minute, obviously. You want to have plenty of time to ask your teachers of anything your uncertain about, and some time to quietly do some past papers yourself and explore the mark schemes. Time management and organisation is key to a successful exam grade!

3. Sleep too late

A common mistake that people make is to sleep little during the exam period and the period building up to the exams. They try and cram as much revision as they can, at the expense of their sleeping time. Unless you really are stretched for time, I would highly discourage losing sleep over revision. You either end up being really tired the next day, not being able to concentrate when you try and revise again, or you wake up really late! Especially on exam days, I'd make sure to get a good sleep, so that you are fresh and wide awake in the morning. A well-known advice, I know, but it's very important that you sleep well during your exam and revision period.

4. Switch off in lessons

When it comes to revision, many people tend to focus when they revise at home, but switch off when they go to school. If you do your homework properly, and pay attention during class, you will find revising much easier and more effective. Don't separate your classwork and homework from revision!

5. Just look at your revision notes

Don't just stare at your revision notes, pleading for the information to go into your head. Just reading the notes is probably the worst way to revise. Try making your revision as active as possible. You can do this by annotating on the margin, highlighting the material to make them stand out, make flashcards or test the content with another friend! Active ways tend to be better at helping you learn the stuff.

6. Be arrogant

If you overestimate your ability at a particular subject, or rely too much on your brain, saying to yourself "I don't need to work that hard because I'm naturally quite clever", you might end up disappointed on the exam day, or the results day. It's better to undermine your intelligence, so that you work and revise that much harder. Also try to overachieve, rather than underachieve! You should always aim for 100% in an exam, rather than 80% if you are trying to get the A grade. That way, you have a large margin for error.

7. Revise from a computer

The computer is the twentieth century enemy for students. It's the primary source of procrastination, along with the evil that is the smartphone. If you have revision material on your computer, print it off. It's always better to have a hard copy that you can annotate on and revise from, than from a computer screen. Try to keep your mobile phone away from you, turning it on silent, or turning it off completely. You'll be surprised at how much better your revision will be, if you put your mind off receiving texts and checking Facebook every so often.

8. Forget to take a break

Like I mentioned in the previous post, always give yourself nice breaks in between revision sessions. Even a small amount of time like 15 minutes will keep you motivated and focused. 5 hour shifts of revision is going to be less effective than three 1-hour sessions of revision with 15 minutes break in between. Try have a go yourself. For the former, you'll most probably end up procrastinating to waste a little bit of time, whereas in the latter, you will actually do the work in the 1-hour shift. All in all, a much more effective and pleasant way of revising.

9. Avoid revising subjects you dislike or are not confident in

Another common mistake is to delay the subject you like the least, or the one you're least good at, until the end. It should always be the other way round. Make sure to put more time and effort into the subjects you're worst at, so that you have plenty of time to revise it. If you leave it to the end, you will undoubtedly be under a lot of stress at the limited time you have left until your exam, and feel that you are inevitably doomed. Don't let that happen!

10. Forget that exams aren't everything

If your exam is in a couple of weeks, or a couple of days, and you feel that you are no way near ready for it, don't stress about it or fret about it too much. Calm down, and try to do as much as you can before the exam. If you fret about it, you will get nothing done and your exam will most probably go badly. Try and motivate yourself - exams aren't everything. Even if you do badly in this exam, you can retake it next year, take a gap year, and reapply to the university that you wanted to go to. It isn't the end of the world if you do badly in an exam!


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