1) Planning and preparationNever has there been a more appropriate time to get involved with a spring clean or a quick run to Rymans to get your stationery. This may seem like a waste of time for sceptics, yet the truth is you won’t be able to focus on your work if your surroundings are not tidy. The stationery shop is equally as important, as research has found that the brain memorises information according to colour - invest in some highlighters, colour-coded post-its and revision cards. Once you’ve sorted your room out, attack your papers; across the module, you most certainly will have shoved some notes into a folder, without paying attention to sequence/dates. Re-organize class notes into topics and break these down into exam papers, so you’ll know what applies to which exam.
2) Create a revision timetableYou can use an Excel sheet or download a grid table from the internet. Though the prospect of filling it in may seem daunting to many, a little known trick is to fill in your timetable with the hours you can’t work first. This way, you’ll get a better idea of exactly how much time is available to you - if you have certain commitments (sports classes, family time, extra-curricular activities) that can’t be cancelled, it’s best to be honest with yourself and your scheduling, as you won’t be tricking yourself in the run up to exams. Once you’ve done this, the next port of call will be your exam topics; every student is aware of his/her bête noire so allocate your time correctly. There’s no point in revising your best subjects first, as the ones you’re more shaky about need urgent attention. You should, as a general rule, work in 40 minute slots, with plenty of breaks in between - just don’t make the latter too long! Revision might not be fun, but what’s worse is looking at an exam paper with a blank face...
3) Get your timing rightTiming is crucial, as is your ability to manage your days. Try and work to a school schedule; that is to say, start at 9AM and aim to finish round 4PM as most students find they are more accustomed to working during the day. You may however find that you are more productive in the evening, if that is the case, then by all means get cracking on your algorithms and algebra then but bear in mind your sleeping pattern; if you start burning the candle at both ends, you may very well find yourself unable to concentrate in the exam.
4) Stay healthy and get enough sleepRevision and stress can sometimes take hold, leaving you with little power foods and limited sleep. Whatever you do, do not compromise on your sleep, as this could be counterproductive to both your revision and your ability to perform as best you can in the exam. Eating a balanced diet, as well as aiming to get 8 hours of sleep will ensure you are at the top of your game, health-wise, which will in turn reflect in your concentration levels.
5) Analyse your course syllabus and look at past papersStudy your course syllabus and make sure you’ve covered the essential topics for your exam. Some modules enable students to ‘tactically’ revise; two set questions in a essay writing exam may require you to study four set texts in depth as opposed to the 10 covered. The advantage of doing this means you really get to grips with certain topics and feel very confident about them, should they come up in an exam; the downside is what may actually appear on your desk on D-day...Though no exam requires students to know the whole course, back to front, you shouldn’t bank on only revising selected aspects of your course unless you are 100% they will come up in the exam. This brings past papers to light; there is a point to them: get an idea of what will be required of you for that particular exam, you can practise under exam conditions, study the topic with a group of friends, debate your answers...Essentially, get a better feel for what may or may not come up.
6) Exam requirementsSome modules are easier to revise than others. For instance, an essay writing exam will undoubtedly require you to study the question, write out an essay plan and bring out certain revision notes into play; an oral exam - or a translation exam - is a lot harder to prepare for. As such, allocate your revision time accordingly. Don’t forget to speak to your teachers/lecturers to find out how you could best prepare for your exams, as they might give you some food for thought. Don’t divide your time up into how many exams you have to sit, but rather on your strengths and weaknesses.
7) Revising your timetableYou may find that your timetable needs revising itself - don’t hesitate to change certain subjects around, your timing, your plans etc - studies have found that students who add variety to their timetable as well as their notes tend to perform better.
- Read more about what food to eat during exam time
- Find out about oral examination tips
- How to deal with exam stress
- How to prepare for your exams - top tips from students