Five Tips for Last Minute Revision
January 26, 2016
Revising for exams can be stressful, particularly if you’ve left it late and need to cram a lot of studying into a short space of time. In this article, I provide my top five tips for revision success. Nothing can beat starting early, keeping on top of work throughout the term. But if you find yourself in a position needing to do some last minute revision, follow these steps to give yourself the best chance for exam success.
1. Get organised
Write a list of all the topics you need to revise. Look at the lectures that you’ve had and match your notes to the syllabus. Get advice from lecturers and friends about which topics will be on the exam, and which will not. Often courses will cover extra topics which are not assessed during exam time. Whilst these topics are often a crucial part of the course going forward, focus your revision on exam topics only. You can tackle everything else later.
2. Tackle the past papers
This is probably the key piece of advice I can give you. It applies to almost every exam you will ever take. In order to standardise courses across years, so that someone graduating one year has an equivalent qualification to someone graduating the year before, exam questions are created from a limited subject area. The questions that your lecturer can ask are restricted and moderated to ensure they relate to the topics you’ve covered. If you only take one thing from this post, this should be it. Do the past papers. Don’t just memorise the answers, but attempt the questions. Then when you sit the exam, really read each question carefully. You’ve probably seen them before in a slightly different form.
3. Talk through what you’ve learned
Find a friend. Or a parent, or a pet or just anyone you can talk to about your subject. Reading about a topic and making notes will only get you so far. Just as you would stand in front of a mirror and practice a presentation, it’s important that you talk though the course content when revising for an exam. Obviously discussing with someone familiar with the content is best. You’ll find you can recall the content more easily during the exam and you should learn something from them as well. So try contacting someone on TutorFair. Plenty of tutors have availability and are willing to juggle things around to help out a student in need – what have you got to lose?
4. Take regular breaks
There’s a host of scientific evidence which suggests that taking regular breaks during revision boosts your brainpower, and increases your chances of remembering the information you’ve covered. A good rule of thumb is a 15 minute break every hour. Get up and walk around. Get some fresh air and stretch your muscles. Make sure you look away from the screen, focussing on objects far away to give your eyes a break too.
5. Be healthy
High caffeine drinks are the norm for many students but they’re not advised. Drink lots of water to give your brain the oxygen it needs to concentrate on the information you’re cramming in. Eat fruit and vegetables and avoid sugary snacks. The last thing you want is to crash from a sugar high after a 48 hour cramming session, just as you pick up your pencil to start.
6. (Bonus Tip)! Get a good night’s sleep
After all that studying, your body needs time to recover. Turn off your phone and set your alarm so you wake up in time to have a good breakfast. Put your laptop away and don’t be tempted by the TV either. You’d be amazed just how much better you focus after a good night’s sleep.
And next time, start early.
Resources others found helpful
A maths past exam from 2008 for Notting Hill and Ealing School, part of the London Independent Girls' School Consortium
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