survive revision hell

Surviving revision hell

Revising is never going to be fun, but with our helpful tips you’ll be making the most of your revision time, perfectly balancing study with relaxing downtime. 

Make a plan

Procrastination and panic are the enemies of effective revision and a well thought out plan will help combat both of these. The more organised you are about your revision the more manageable it will seem and therefore the more relaxed you will feel about it. So draw up a timetable that details the subjects you want to cover and allocate adequate time to each. Schedule in a mixture of short bursts and longer study periods and align it to your own body clock. Is your concentration better in the mornings, for instance?  The most important thing is to make sure the plan is realistic and achievable. Keeping to a revision plan can be difficult so don't be too hard on yourself if you stray as long as you broadly stay on track.  

Sort your life out

You need to be able to focus on your revision, so be as organised as you can in all other aspects of your life. Make sure you have enough food in, don't over-commit in areas such as your social life or extracurricular activities and if you have a part-time job, ask for time off in advance. That all said, you need a life outside of revision so remember to timetable in breaks and time off from study to recharge as well as exercise and getting some fresh air to help increase oxygen to the brain. As with all things in life, it is a question of finding the right balance.

The right environment

Some people need stoney silence while others revise better when listening to their favourite music in the background. Create the optimum conditions for you whether it's going to the library with others around you or staying in your room. While it's good to have contact with peers during the revision period, minimise external distractions and time stealers like someone popping round unexpectedly or needlessly going to the shops.

Importance of active learning

Simply reading and re-reading notes and trying to learn parrot-fashion is not enough. Experts say you have to learn actively which means really engaging with the material, processing it and reflecting on it. It is important to work out what method of learning works best for you.

"Different techniques work for different people and depending on the type of subject being revised, some techniques are more suitable than others," says a spokesperson from A+ Tutors, an advice site for students. "Lists of keywords for each topic covered, which can act as triggers for other ideas, or some kind of diagrammatic representation of notes can be helpful."

Flowcharts or mindmaps can also work. Other methods could include composing questions to test yourself or summarising information in bullet points and then writing it out in your own words in longer form.

Revising in numbers

Group revision can provide a welcome break from the isolation of studying alone and provide more opportunities for active learning so take advantage of any revision sessions held by tutors. They may also provide access to previous papers. As well as aiding understanding and providing a great platform for exchanging ideas, group sessions can also help you to stay motivated and build confidence. They may help to demonstrate that you know more than you think you do. As well as formal revision groups, buddy up with a mate so you can test each other in particular areas.

Confront your weak areas

Everyone has subjects that they struggle with. While it is important to set aside more revision time for these, don't get so hung up on them that the rest of your revision suffers or, conversely, don't turn a blind eye to them.

"If you have trouble with specific details of topics, try to understand the topic generally and don't get too bogged down with details," says A+ Tutors. "If you just choose to ‘ignore’ topics, you may be limiting your options too much when it comes to answering questions. Try to gain a broad understanding, as this is often sufficient to answer most or part of a question."

Learning on cue

Create some bite size revision notes or cue cards that will help you brush up on certain areas while you are away from your desk. They can be especially useful in dead time such as when you are travelling on public transport or waiting in a queue. The process of condensing information down and producing the cards in the first place is also another form of active learning.

Burning the midnight oil

If you think it necessary to stay up late and cram in the run-up to the exam, no amount of telling you otherwise may make any difference. Whatever you do though, make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before the exam. If you've followed our advice and been organised about your revision, you shouldn't need to cram at the last minute.

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