Exams. What better way to begin the new year. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard exam season is here. Although this period can be worrisome to many, given the proper tools and mindset, this period can be overcome quite easily.
I have recently been to a session called Mastering Your Exam Performance offered by SPLASH at Surrey University and I found it very helpful. The session was lead by Laura Barnett a Learning Development Adviser and the audience included students of various disciplines and levels of study. The aim of the session is to boost confidence about exams by exploring various revision approaches and techniques. Since there is no “right way” of revision, it is upto each individual to choose their most suited method for revision. For today’s post I will be exploring some of the methods we discussed during the session that I found useful for me and hopefully you do as well.
“I have too much to revise!”
A common issue comes when you start looking through the lecture slides – there’s just so much content!
- Pick out what is relevant.
As opposed to some beliefs, in most cases you are not required to revise all the given material. Picking out what is relevant is the better approach. Listening to cues and hints from lecturers is a good way to target important revision areas, some lecturers are more forward in giving out hints than others like “this is coming in the exam” other lecturers may say “this is important” or “this is worth noting” etc.
- Be efficient.
Exam papers usually follow a pattern, questions and topics are repeated year after year and I find this useful in identifying which topics are repeated and more importantly how the question about the topics are asked. During the session we were given a task to look at Hospitality exam papers from the past 3 years to find similarities in topics and instruction terminology, we were astonished on the amount of information we were able to extract just by comparing these papers!
“I don’t know how to revise”
With all the lectures, seminars and tutorials, establishing a good and efficient method to revise can be hard. The majority would just stick to old habits that are inefficient as we found when discussing this issue during the session. Reading again and again until you learn everything, writing down summaries and re-writing them again, learning solutions to questions discussed during lecture; many of us stick to these methods because we are familiar with them but won’t discover new ones.
- Different strategies for different exams.
Not all exams require the same revision strategy. Some subjects require more learning to do, others require more practice and learning comes from solving many questions and other subjects require a little bit of both.
- Active revision.
Most of the old-habit-methods mentioned above fall into the category of passive revision which is built upon revisiting materials such as re-reading and copying materials. Active revision however, refers to actually using and organizing the materials you have. A good way to do this is to put the information you have in a form of a song or a rhyme. Another method is to teach the concepts to someone else, this way you would be teaching the material fundamentally through step by step explanation and thereby learning more about it yourself.
“I get so bored with revision”
With prolonged study sessions, maintaining your energy and interest is certainly a challenge. It is quite strange to start feeling sleepy, but feel energetic once you’ve stopped studying. However, this can be tackled by a few simple steps:
- Stick to a schedule.
Managing your time is key, the more you invest into making sure your schedule works the better the outcome. You know if you are more motivated in the morning or evening. Think about where and when you work best and who you like to revise with (if at all).
- Realize when you’re procrastinating.
I usually procrastinate when I’m feeling hungry, so I arrange my schedule so that the easy tasks go just before my meals, that way I’m not tied into doing major tasks when I really don’t feel like it.
- Enjoy your time.
Try to enjoy your revision time by fully immersing yourself in it. Professional actors can learn pages and pages of script by fully indulging with the story, relating scenes and characters to their lines.
- Reward yourself with nice treats after achieving a set goal. “I’ll have ice-cream when I finish this chapter!”.
- Meditate, give yourself plenty of time to relax, meditation can be a good exercise to de-stress.
I am a third year student, so I should have all my exam-tackling techniques in check right? Well yes and no. Yes because I do have an established exam revision technique for computational exams, and no because I do not have a superb method for exams that require memorizing a vast amount of information. This semester I have a module titled Engineering Materials and it has quite a hefty amount of information to be learnt, my usual method is me reading from the given slides over and over until I magically learn everything! It is an inefficient technique (I discovered in a previous experience) so instead of pursuing incompetent methods I thought why not ask an expert and seek dynamite ways to learn.
SPLASH (Student Personal Learning and Study Hub) is a service found in University of Surrey library and they help Surrey students to develop various academic skills as well as personal and professional skills. They offer one-to-one or group-based learning workshops for all disciplines at the University as well as drop-in sessions. The Learning Advisers host various topics such as academic writing, planning assignments, revision techniques, exam preparation and much more. Click here for more information about SPLASH.
Best of luck!