Unfortunately, revision does still form a large part of your life, no matter which level you’re learning at.
At school no sooner have you finished the course material and feeling happy for yourself do you get thrown into mock exams and and then realise you’re going to have to get down to some revision. The pressure you can feel under will be great – take it from me who’s gone through far too many exams in my time.
The best way of getting started, is to have a revision timetable and plan ready for when you get revising. Yes, I’m sure that the mock exams will throw up the odd thing but by then it’ll be too late. With this in mind, it’s worth considering starting early and ensuring that you get going efficiently.
So, here are some of my main tips for revision timetables.
Ensure you have enough time to go through everything at least once
There’s no point in revising something once and leaving it at that. Going back to something again will not only help refresh your head on the subject but it will also ensure that you identify your own areas of weakness.
When I was at school and made revision timetables, I made sure that I could get through everything… and then do it again in time for the exam. This meant I could study a given subject and then go back to it in a few days/weeks and understand what had gone missing in my memory. I would rather that happened during the revision phase than realising in the actual exam that there was something I had forgotten in that time between revision and exam.
Consider the order of your exams when you’re creating your timetable
Obviously, you don’t want to be revising things so far away that by the time you get to exam day, you’ve forgotten most of it – even if you do go through everything twice! However, generally you want to start revising for the exam you have first – it’s coming first so getting yourself organised with that particular subject is the key way to start.
If you have gaps in between exams, use the earlier opportunity to revise for the exam that comes first… and then use the three-day gap to get yourself ready for the second exam.
In my personal experience, dedicating the night before an exam purely to that cause is important, but don’t go too overboard and go into the complex stuff unless you’re sure about it. You don’t want to make yourself unsure or uncertain about anything the night before.
Break it down into different topics
Seriously, you’ll be surprised how much easier this makes life when revising. If you’ve got one big exam for a given subject – look at the different topics associated with that. For example, you could break Geography down into physical geography (even then you could break that down further into volcanoes and rivers) and human geography – population and agriculture could be further ways to break it down.
If you study by module as you might with Mathematics or Further Mathematics, you can always break that down by module, for example your core modules and statistics/mechanics.
The reason I say this is because not only will it ensure that you get everything covered in your revision time, but it will also keep everything more organised. You’ll feel a lot better for it.
Keep it similar to your school day
Another piece of advice I could give you is to try and keep it as ‘normal’ as you can. If you are lucky enough to get Study Leave (or Personal Directed Learning Time, as my school preferred to call it) then try and keep your revision timetable as similar to your school day as you can. Whilst there’s a temptation to have a cheeky lie-in now and again, that probably isn’t going to be the most productive decision you’ve ever made. If you follow what you would do at school in terms of timings, you’ll keep yourself in a nice easy rhythm that will allow you to get on with your day effectively.
For me, my plan was always to get up bright and early and get through the day as I would in school – take a short break mid-morning as you would at school and take that lunch break.
Be realistic on how long you’ll keep going
According to research, the longest one can keep their full concentration on something is around half an hour at a time, so make sure you keep things nice and varied. It doesn’t have to be a massive change – maybe move on to a different topic after a given amount of time to ensure that you have the maximum attention to what you’re doing.
Also, don’t expect yourself to be able to do 12 hours a day, every day. You’ll just wear yourself out as a result and your revision will become less effective.
Remember that you are only human…
You might see yourself as an educational, exam-busting demi-god, but you are a human being nonetheless. Try and keep yourself sane in the times you’re revising – try and keep your various social aspects in order. Arrange time to have a kickabout with the lads, take an afternoon off every so often to go shopping or something. Don’t forget the revision, but equally important is that you don’t turn into a zombie at the same time.
Realising you’ve got nothing to look forward to for the next week is a soul-destroying thing – I’ve been there and it’s truly rotten.Hopefully this will give you a few solid ideas as to how you should plan out your revision. There’s never a fully-perfect model for them and it’s more of an art than a science, but eventually you’ll find out where your priorities are in learning and what you’re like as a learner.
Oh, and one last thing: don’t be afraid to jiggle things about if you need to spend more time on one thing than another. Don’t panic, just find something that’s going smoother and perhaps consider taking time out of that in order to get some of the trickier things sorted.