The time of the year hated by almost every student in the country is slowly sneaking up on us. If you are feeling exam week pressure, try not to panic. Now is the time to take the initiative. Put away any distractions, call your mates to cancel that night out and get your head in the game. Keep a positive attitude and follow these revision tips to make sure you are as prepared as possible for your exams.
1. Plan, plan, plan
You need to make sure you give yourself enough time to cover each of your subjects in detail. The best way to do this is to create a revision timetable as soon as you can. This doesn’t mean that you have to start revising as soon as you begin the academic year, but when you know your exam timetable, or once you feel like you have covered all new information in your lectures and seminars, you should start preparing.
A good way to create a revision timetable is to break your studying into easily manageable 20-30 minute blocks, with five minute breaks in between. If you are revising for the whole day, this can include two 30 minute breaks and a one hour lunchtime. Mixing up the order of your subjects can also help, as your mind will be less likely to wander.
Make sure you have enough time to fit everything in, and balance your time between each of your modules. Even though it’s fine to take longer on key subjects you find tough, don’t neglect the modules you think you have a keen grasp of; you should try to cover everything that might be in the exam.
Revision can be a big commitment, but it is worth it in the long run. If you stick to your plan and give yourself regular breaks, the time should fly by.
2. Sort out your space
You need to find a place where you won’t be distracted, whether it’s at your parent’s house, your student accommodation or the university library.
Some people work really well revising in a group, and going to the library with a group of friends helps them to study. Others know that working alone is the only way for them, so if you do venture out of the house to revise, take your headphones and turn your phone off to minimise any distractions.
3. Start in the morning (I know you don’t want to, but trust us)
We all know what students are like when it comes to sleeping in, but making the effort to get up in the morning will make things a whole lot easier for you. Starting at 10am and finishing at 4pm will mean that you have much more free time and energy compared to getting up at 2pm and finishing when it’s already dark and your friends are already out.
It may take you a while to adjust to a new sleeping pattern, but it will be well worth it when you're throwing your mortar board up in the air on graduation day and you’ve passed with flying colours. If you start early, none of your roommates will probably be up anyway, and who ever heard of a university social event starting anytime before 5pm? Make the effort to get up in the morning and you will have much more free time in the afternoon and will be less likely to miss out on your social life!
4. Find out what works for you
There are lots of different revision techniques out there. Some people find that they learn better through visual means, such as being shown a documentary or a YouTube video. Other people might work best when they have a textbook in front of them.
Try a few different revision techniques, test yourself and find out what works best for you however, don’t be afraid to vary how you revise if you can feel yourself getting restless after a while.
5. Find past papers
One of the best revision techniques is to find past exam papers to work from. Once you believe you understand the topic of the exam and have committed to memory what you have learnt, speak to your tutor or course leader about past papers.
With the help of previous exams, you will be able to familiarise yourself with the style of questions asked, and can plan and practise the types of answers you will need to give. Use the paper to help generate ideas, analyse the main schools of thoughts and develop different angles of looking at questions.
6. Incorporate rewards
You need something to look forward to when revising to keep yourself motivated. You could plan a cinema trip with your friends, buy some ingredients to cook yourself a great lunch in the middle of a revision day or arrange a big night out on the Friday (if you know you have been working hard the whole week).
7. Ask for help
One of the best ways to monitor your revision progress is to ask your friends and family to help. If you have decided to make revision notes, ask them to test you on different areas. This is a good way to discover your strengths and weaknesses and offers a nice break from hardline revision.
8. Don’t be too hard on yourself!
The weeks leading up to exams can be really tough on everyone. Planning your time effectively and working hard will get you through, but it's important not to be too hard on yourself. Take regular breaks, reward yourself and monitor your progress so you don’t end up overworked and burnt out.
Following these tips will help you prepare for your university exams. However, things will get easier as time goes on and you will become more aware of what subjects you feel you can handle and others you might need more help with. You can always contact your tutors, course leaders and fellow students if there are areas you feel you need to recap, and there will be an abundance of resources available at your university's library.
Revision can be a big commitment, but it’s worth it in the long run. If you stick to your plan and give yourself regular breaks, the time should fly by.
Don’t forget, once your exams are over, you will be free (at least for a while!) Keep your head down and so you can reap the rewards afterwards. Good luck!