I thought that today I would just post a few of my top tips that I use when I am revising for exams. I have definitely had plenty of practice as since leaving high school I’ve been in further and higher education for 6 years in a row! I feel like I have got better at revising over the years and found the perfect technique for me personally to retain as much information as possible. I know a lot of these tips will be common sense but they might just help someone and I personally like reading about other peoples methods to see how I can improve as well.
I had wanted to do this post weeks ago as one of my tips is to start revising early but this year I started a week before exams, so I didn’t feel like I could write this post when I hadn’t even started yet! Today I sat my last January exam for this year and thought I may as well just post this any way as some people still have exams to come in the next few weeks. Before I get started I just want to emphasise how much I hate exams, January exams in particular! Why why why do exam boards think its a good idea to have exams straight after the Christmas holidays?? Revision never gets done as you’re too busy enjoying Christmas like you should be, and having a well earned rest from the previous term. I totally took relaxing too far this Christmas and I should have started to revise much earlier but I don’t regret it. I had such a nice Christmas spent with my family and honestly life is too short to stress about how much revision you have or haven’t done! Anyway here are a few things that help me get through the dreaded revision.
Revision Timetable – Before you do anything get a list off your tutors of all the possible topics on that may be on your exam so that you do not miss anything out by mistake. I usually try to start revision 6 weeks before just so I can fit in every topic I need to know at least once. That obviously didn’t happen with these exams I’ve just taken but usually that is what I aim for. Personally for me early revision works best so I can have a chance to properly remember everything and this helps me highlight topics that I am not too sure on. When I know what topics I need to revise I always find it helpful to create a revision timetable, this doesn’t have to be super fancy but you can find colourful ones on the internet that might make you more motivated. But I just have a very simple approach and add up all of the days until my exam and divide them by the number of topics I need to study, and that gives me an idea as to how many topics I need to study each day to fit them all in. I hope that makes sense? I allocate how ever many topics this calculation gave me to each day and go from there.
How I revise – I love making my notes in lots of different colours as I feel like it helps me remember them better. I used to make mind maps of my notes but now I prefer having my page portrait as I feel like my notes are in a more organised list this way. An example of how I write my revision notes are in the photo above. I use the staedtler pens, I have a few sets my favourites are the neon ones.
Before I start to revise I get myself a drink and make sure I have ate or have a snack near by so that I don’t get hungry during and concentrate on food too much while revising! I prefer to revise in comfortable clothing so I will often put my PJ’s to make sure nothing is distracting me like uncomfortable clothing but some people may find that wearing PJ’s will make you too relaxed and sleepy so its up to you. I can’t read when I can hear other people talking or if a distraction like the TV is on so I either turn everything off, go somewhere by myself or listen to some music. I tend to listen to music that doesn’t have lyrics as I end up singing along to them and not concentrating on work. My favourite music to listen to while revising is by the band Tycho, all of their songs are instrumental and they really help me focus.
When I was revising last year for exams I came across a youtube channel called crash course, it is presented by Hank Green who you might have heard of. This channel helped me sooo much with revision last year so I used it again this year. I am studying animal management and science so the biology, anatomy and physiology courses cover almost everything I need to know. The way the topics are explained make much more sense to me and I just understand it all better when information is being spoken to me rather than me reading it myself. The videos are no longer than 15 minutes and it’s just a different way of revising that makes it a bit more interesting then reading straight from a book. If you’re studying a science course I would highly recommend that channel, they do have other courses like english literature and history so its definitely worth checking out. I make notes from the videos and if I need extra information on anything I just google it.
Once I’ve made notes on everything I keep reading them so the information sticks in my mind then what I’ve found useful is to look online at quizzes about each topic and test what I know, I find this a lot less taxing then doing past exam questions especially when your exam will be essay questions. If I have time and can bring myself to do them I will have a go at past exam papers as a lot of the times the questions on your exam will be similar and if you’ve already practiced it, it will be easier in your exam to do.
Take care of yourself – It is important to take care of yourself when its exam season, as its easy to become stressed and feel overwhelmed. So obviously take regular breaks and do things you enjoy to give your mind a rest. I like to revise for about an hour then allow myself to watch an episode of one of my favourite TV shows before getting back to work. I have recently became obsessed with candy crush again so I have also been playing that during breaks until I run out of lives! When I’m at home I will often take breaks by visiting my rabbits, they can cheer me up no matter what, so spending a little bit of time with them really calms me down, animals are great stress relievers!
I hope that this post was somewhat helpful and I wish you all the best of luck with your exams!