Revision. The one thing that many students dread… Fortunately, there are many tips and tricks that you can use to your advantage! In fact, once I developed these revision habits, I found myself swiftly studying my way through content!
Before I reveal to you the answer to revision, I would like to highlight that actually… there is no clear-cut answer at all. How I revise may be completely different to somebody else’s studying process. It’s just a matter of seeing what techniques work best for you!
Plan ahead of time
Revision is most effective when you prepare content ahead of time. The earlier you start and the more you organise what you have to study, the greater your chance of succeeding assignments and diminishing any possible intense library sessions or last-minute cramming.
If you consistently revise and therefore exercise your brain over a long period of time, the better it adapts to what you’re exactly studying. This helps promote long-term memory, key for exams. Try not to leave things to the last minute!
How do you plan revision?
When it comes to revision, do plan with a strategic mindset. Ask yourself these questions before you start planning:
What am I studying for?:
List the date(s) for each assignment and/or exam that’s due and visualise what you should focus on revising. Write all of this down on a piece of paper and, like, a spider-diagram of some sorts, note down the subject of the exam (e.g., if there is an exam on Biopsychology).
What should I primarily study?:
It depends on two key factors: time and your knowledge.
Some exams may be earlier than others or carry a greater module percentage – definitely take these factors into account. It may be worth scheduling more revision time on a subject which you are tested on earlier in the exam period. Closer to the exam date, train your brain exclusively with that subject in mind.
However, there may be some topics that require extra studying time. Focus your energy on these weaker areas or gaps of knowledge, especially when a large range of content could show up on your exam paper.
How do I make a revision plan?:
Simply print out a school-style timetable or a calendar printout.
- Immediately mark when your exams/assignments are due. From there, take into account the factors listed above including the core subject(s) of the exam.
- Strategically schedule what you’re going to focus on studying depending on when your exams are.
- Do allow for general revision sessions a couple of days before the exams to refresh on all of the content.
- Once you’ve provided the ‘bone’ to your revision schedule, begin to flesh out your weeks with other responsibilities including breaks, social events, or any other commitments you may have.
- At the start of the week hone in on each revision day and note down what your focus of the day should be. This may be according to your strengths and weaknesses, or how you’re going to study (e.g., creating or going over flashcards, writing notes, or doing practice papers).
Try to get creative when creating your revision schedule! Unless you’re using online modes such as excel, colour code your schedule according to subject focus, using highlighters and post-it’s in the process. This will definitely motivate you to revise!
NOTE: don’t be over ambitious with your revision plan. Devise goals that are achievable within your schedule, whilst also taking into account some relaxation time. To reiterate, your brain is like a muscle – just as you exercise it through studying, you also need muscle-recovery to absorb all the information you have covered.
After you’ve made your revision plan, it’s time to get revising!
Revision methods vary from person to person. However, common techniques (many of which are explained in detail online) include:
- Writing notes using particular note-taking techniques: the most popular of which is Mind-Mapping and The Cornell Method. Do refer to https://www.utc.edu/center-academic-support-advisement/tips-for-academic-success/note-taking.php for further information.
- Creating flashcards that promote active recall and spaced repetition, psychological techniques proven to improve the revision efficiency.
- Doing as many practice papers as possible to reinforce knowledge; don’t be afraid to ask module/subject leaders for as many as possible!
- Asking friends or family to test your knowledge. As with doing practice exams, the act of pulling information out of your memory whilst being tested means you can remember it easily later on. Therefore, by testing and challenging yourself, information will eventually be stored in long-term memory!
- Recording yourself reading notes and playing it back.
There are a lot of online resources that may help you with revision. For my past exams I often used Quizlet to create digital flashcards, making use of the integrated ‘long-term learning’ feature which tracked my ability to recall answers over a period of time. I found the Pomodoro Technique to be extremely useful when it came to writing notes and doing general revision. I highly recommend you all to look into this technique! Other revision applications include Kahoot!, Anki, and Brainscape.
However, if you’re currently a university student, there are plenty of resources already provided for you. Do refer to https://study.surrey.ac.uk/study-support/resources for further support if you’re currently a student at the University of Surrey, or a prospective student wanting to see the high levels of support university provides!
Where should I revise?:
Other than at your (clean and organised) desk, there are other places you could revise for exams outside the comfort of your own home. These include independent cafes, your local public library, or even in a park! Personally, I find it important to escape into nature be it for breaks or for brief revision. However, this varies from person-to-person depending on their studying preferences.
For further information on study spaces on campus (i.e., perfect places for revision at the University of Surrey) do read this highly informative article.
You are not alone!
Revision is definitely a daunting task, and with it there may be some highs and lows. Think of revision as a process that happens over time, rather than an act that needs to be done simply to pass exams. All you gotta do is jump through a number of hurdles, revise over an x-amount of content, and before you know it your exams will be done and dusted!
There are plenty of support services available for you at University if you’re struggling during revision, be it academically or for your mental wellbeing. Do click here to find out more.