Time to revise? -Common pitfalls and how to overcome them.

It’s that time of year again when exams are on the horizon and you need to do some revision. This can be extremely daunting, especially as it can seem like there is so much to cover. However, this blog will give you some hints and tips to help you feel as prepared as you possibly can and avoid common revision pitfalls.

Believe it are not, there are some positives to sitting exams! Firstly, while you will need to include in-text citations in your answers, references / bibliographies are not required in full at the end. Generally, exam answers also require less information to answer the question than would be needed for a comparable coursework assignment. That means less time spent on in-depth reading and writing!

Before you start revising, you should think about prioritising what you need to cover. Think about how much time you have available, which topics you may perform well / less well in, your likes and dislikes, any crucial topics for the subject and any other demands on your time.

However, it is easy to succumb to common pitfalls when revising; here we will give you some advice on how to avoid them.

  1. Don’t leave it all until the last minute!

In fact, you should start revising early! This should be a least a month before your exam; many students set aside their Easter holiday to focus on their revision. You may find it helpful to build your revision into a timetable, with times set aside for each topic and breaks in between. On the other hand, you may prefer to base your revision around a list of tasks and topics which you need to cover; this is a more flexible approach. Whichever way you choose to plan your revision; it is easier to stay interested if you mix up the topics you study from one session to another.

  1. Don’t simply read over your notes again and again and again!

You need to make your revision active as opposed to passive. Use creative and interactive revision strategies; this will help you to remember information. Some examples include:

Revision technique #1 Read, Cover, Remember, Tell

Read- only as much as your hand can over.

Cover- what you just read

Remember- what you’ve just read.

Tell- What you read in your head or to a partner.

Revision technique #2 Record yourself

Record yourself reading notes aloud and listen to them instead of reading.

Revision technique #3 Mnemonics

This can be a helpful way to remember facts. Use the first letter of a series of words to create a phrase which is easy to remember. You may remember- Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain!

 Revision technique #4 Making Associations

Try to link new ideas to familiar images, for example a room in your house. This makes it easier to remember them in the exam.

  1. Writing out essays and learning them off by heart.

This is time-consuming and counter-productive. Chances are the exact same question won’t come up in your exam anyway! It’s much better to practice a range of answers so that you can apply this information more flexibly to any question which comes up.

  1. Putting off revision (‘urgent’ things that need to be done, watching TV, chatting with friends).

Make a revision timetable to build your exam preparation around other demands on your time.

Use watching TV, for example, as a reward; this is something you could schedule into your timetable.

Arrange to revise with other students.

  1. ‘I’m never going to get through it all or remember it’.

Set yourself small, achievable goals and stick to them.

Work with fellow students who can provide support.

  1. ‘I’m struggling to focus’.

Make your revision sessions a little shorter. Most people find it hard to concentrate for longer than 40 minutes.

Use a range of more interactive revision techniques.

If you need some advice on your revision and exam technique you can come along to one of our drop-in sessions which are held on Tuesdays between 1pm and 4pm, Murray Library and Thursdays between 10am and 1pm, St. Peters Library.

You can also book a one-to-one appointment with a Study Skills Adviser, simply fill in the online form: One-to-one advice

Good luck with your revision!

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