[7 Minute Listen!]
Spending a short amount of quality time with someone is better than spending hours paying very little attention to them at all. Revising for an exam is similar. You must hit revision in small intense bursts where you give it your 100% attention. The following are three useful efficiencies that will help you construct good study sessions.
Rotate your Place of Study
It is good practice to rotate where you study. The main reason for this is that if you start to get bored or listless there, you’ll associate boredom with learning. Try other places such as the kitchen table, the park, the back garden, the library or just a different room; anywhere you want to really. Try revising certain topics in unusual locations. An example of this could be to learn English drama quotes on your lawn in the sun. When you need to remember these quotes in the exam hall, you can visualise yourself being back there, recalling the day you learned them and hopefully triggering your mind to recall that information. Experiment to see if music or TV helps you concentrate. Some subjects will be more suited to this than others. I believe some Maths topics do not require one hundred percent attention, an example being adding words or formula’s to your hardback notebook. This however may be associated with my aptitude for the subject. You may be able to listen to some low level music in subjects you are more tuned into. This varies from person to person obviously and won’t work for every subject.
Leaving Material Out
Come the next few weeks, as regular as a clock ticks, the rumour mill kicks into action. Comments like “Oh, this is coming up this year”, “I heard this is expected to come up”, “There’s no way that will be on the paper” or even ‘I’m leaving that out’ are common both online and offline. Please be aware that if a topic is listed on the syllabus for your subject, it can appear on the paper, even if it came up last year. Your teacher will source you a copy of the syllabus document if you wish to view it, or alternatively you can download it online. The syllabus document will tell you exactly what can be examined in the subject and is useful when you are collating the full sub-topic list for each subject.
In relation to exam preparation, I know you all will try cutting corners; you will predict, throw topics away and ignore information. I would not recommend leaving out big chunks of the course. The State Exams Commission, who set the exam papers each year, state that they do not want any element of predictability in them. In general my advice is to cover your bases well.
Continue to whittle down and reduce the volume of your keynotes. I am convinced that summarising information helps assimilate it better and leaves one with a more concise set of notes. Keep re-writing summaries into something manageable that you can read and understand. As exams approach, be careful who you listen to. Teachers with many years’ experience (whether that’s your subject teacher or someone you know well) won’t put you far wrong. Having seen many exam papers, I think you can certainly place a good level of trust in them. The newspaper revision supplements, written by experienced professionals, can be a useful revision aid also.
Implement a Solid Study Plan Now
Now that you are aware and have listed out all the topics on a sheet (per subject), it is time to make a robust yet practical study plan that you can follow. Here are twenty practical study tips you can start using today:
- Divide your study time into small sessions
- Take a break of five or ten minutes after every session
- Revise during hours when you feel productive
- Each student has their own method of studying. So figure yours out and use it
- Divide study times as per topics and effort needed. Difficult topics = More time
- Underlining the key points for each topic is a great habit to start now
- Make a practical study plan you can follow. A plan that is not doable is a big NO
- Short notes should be just that – short and concise. This makes revision easier later
- Use abbreviations and note down the key points only. No waffle or padding
- Do not skip a topic because it seems difficult. Revise it a few times to let it sink in
- Use revision breaks for something productive such as music, art, or sports activities
- Always set a target score you are aiming towards in each subject
- Take tests regularly. Your test scores are a regular reminder of your target score
- Maintain test records so that you know which subtopics you need to work on
- Sleep 7-8 hours. Losing sleep will affect your ability to concentrate and retain
- Stay as healthy as you possibly can. Exercise
- You cannot change the amount of revision you did yesterday. Start today
- Be kind to yourself. Use positive self-talk each day
- Reflect on the amount of revision you did today, instead of what you didn’t do
- If today’s study plan didn’t go well, revisit it and tweak tomorrows one
“It is never too late to step into your own greatness”
To view last weeks feature article on ‘How Writing Summaries and Self Testing is Worthwhile’, click here.
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© Joe McCormack 2021