Pens, paper and multi-coloured sticky notes at the ready – it’s time to revise! The prospect of looming exams may seem scary, but if you get organised there is no need to panic. Below are five key hints and tips to take away some of the stress.
1. Draw up a sensible revision schedule
Make sure you include plenty of breaks. Research shows that shorter 20-30 minute spells work best, because your concentration is much higher. If you’re working at a computer, make sure you also have screen breaks – at least five minutes away from your computer every hour.
2. Find somewhere comfortable to revise...
...but not too comfortable! For example, bed – you don’t want to risk falling asleep in a pile of books! You need a place where you can be uninterrupted for a few hours. Your room or your campus library/study areas will do. Be careful with revising in a coffee shop. It is a popular option; however, it doesn't work for everybody and people often get distracted! And turn off your mobile phone!
Physical activity is very important, in particular during intense study time. Even going for a small 30-minute jog or walk after a day of revision will make a huge difference to your well-being. Physical activity increases heart rate which makes the blood circulate faster. This in turn ensures that your brain gets more oxygen, which increases productivity whilst reducing tiredness and stress.
4. Practise, practise, practise
Get your hands on as many past papers as you can. Practising past papers will help you get familiar with the:
- exam format
- question style – e.g. describe, explain, compare, contrast, etc.
- time pressure.
Also, ask your teachers/tutors for examples of past papers or Google and download them yourself.
5. Variety is the spice of life!
Mix up your study habits and methods by listening to podcasts, watching videos or documentaries, moving to a new study area, or even something as simple as using different colours for your notes. Write up interesting (and useful!) facts and leave them at strategic points around your house, like on the fridge, wardrobe doors, etc. Seeing facts in familiar places helps reinforce them in your mind. Discuss facts and what you have revised with your friends and family. If you can explain a subject to someone else, then it means you know and understand that subject. Speaking facts out loud also helps reinforce them in your memory.
Remember, though, that it is not all about the work; you need good breaks too. People who manage to find the right balance between study and leisure are the ones who get the top marks. For instance, go to the cinema with friends after a productive day of revision, or treat yourself and try to switch off. This will help you to relax, making it much easier to face those dreaded exams this summer.