Posts Tagged ‘revision’

Caffeine, Confidence and Careless Planning: A Personal Guide to Revision

Advice on how to get the most out of your revision, from information on visual aids to what foods you should be eating, is available everywhere.   As someone who is prone to stress, I often feel overwhelmed with everything that I am told I “should” be doing whilst revising.  After years of trial and error, I have found a few things that really work for me:

1.       Mathematics can be intense and overwhelming so I find it incredibly useful to take a few hours to remind myself why I’m doing the degree.  If I’m finding a module particularly wearing I’ll find an article, book or video loosely based on the subject to spark my interest again.  For example, after reading through my probability notes for a few hours yesterday and very almost losing the will to live, I decided to watch a video by Vsauce about the maths behind shuffling a deck of cards (which, by the way, is mind blowing).

2.       Finding a suitable place to revise was actually a bit issue for me.  At home I get too easily distracted but I can’t deal with the silence in the library.  Coffee shops were my saviour.   When I’m struggling to revise, I walk to a local coffee shop, order myself a drink and set out all my revision on a little table.  I enjoy working within a lightly bustling area; I can concentrate well but also when I need a break I can get some fresh air and take a stroll.  Obviously, the big upside to working in a café is the possibility of a constant supply of caffeine which is extremely alluring. 

3.       One major issue I used to have whilst studying for exams was confidence.  I would always compare my work and results to my friends’ and subsequently be far too hard on myself.  During exam season, I find it useful to remember that people work at different paces and revise in diverse ways.  It is for this reason I tend to steer clear of ‘group revision’ as I know I am more comfortable going through things at my own speed.

4.       Finally, I find it most useful to be ridiculously organised during exam season.  Revision timetables are my strength, however I must remind myself to be realistic.  If I had followed the first timetable I had made for myself this year I’d be clocking a solid ten hours of revision a day, and subsequently, probably would have died after about a week.  Setting myself unattainable goals is a bad habit; I am never going to be doing ten hours a day and that is completely fine.  I find it important to set myself reachable goals at the end of each week and if I was unable to finish everything one week I go back and assess what the issues are. 

There is roughly twenty-two days, one hour and 35 minutes until my first exam.  I am soon to be completely submerged in scrap notes, past papers and post-it notes.  My hands are decorated with black ink smudges.  I am simultaneously completely exhausted and also experiencing a caffeine-induced spark of motivation.  My brain seems to be completely incapable of completing any tasks that aren’t maths related; for instance, after making a cup of tea, I proceeded to put the milk in the cupboard, tea bags in the fridge and spoon in the bin. 

Revision sucks.  There is no point in sugar coating it.  However now that I have found my own little preferences, it sucks just a little bit less.

Help! How do I Revise???

When it comes to the most hated aspect of student life there aren’t many pointers one can give which will make you despise the tedious activity any less. For most of us, University is likely to stand as the final academic level which we will pursue in our lives. Of course some will want to look into clipping a few more qualifications under their belt but it is safe to assume the majority of us will want to dive into the working world as soon as we’ve thrown those graduation hats in the air.

It stands to reason that one of the factors that undermines the motivation to pursue further study past your undergraduate degree is the tremendous workload that comes with such a task, namely the revision that has to be plowed through before you are able to grab another sacred roll which re-affirms the time and effort you have spent in order to increase those coveted accolades on your wall.

We have all gone through exams in the past and it’s safe to assume that even now most of us still struggle with the dreaded revision period which we are given for the end of year exams. In theory based subjects such as Physics and Mathematics these exams can count for up to 90% of your final grade so it is no understatement to highlight that your revision methods can contribute to your academic success for the year. A treacherous path through a thick and repulsing forest, littered with distractions. Those who have walked this path are well placed to give you the best tips on how to ensure you triumphantly emerge out of its grasp. It is the simplest revision tips that are usually the ones carrying most effect since the last headache you could need is a 50 point leaflet on achieving success.

One that has always helped me which also falls in line with the minimalistic theory is drafting up a timetable for your revision period at the end of the year. It should focus on every module to an equal extent but prioritise topics which you struggle with. Don’t gain false confidence because you understand a certain aspect of the course to an incredible standard but don’t get discouraged if there are 5 questions that leave you clueless in a past paper.

Revision time is there to allow you to learn and refresh the previous material you have covered during the year, if you fully understood everything you are revising for the first time it would be a pointless waste of time. What I’m trying to say is that struggling with some topics during revision is by no means a negative sign because that is what revision is there for.

Another important and often overlooked resource people tend to sweep under the carpet due to stress and confusion are all the lecture notes you took during the entire year as well as the notes the lecturer uploaded for your convenience. My friend would tend to read through his and the lecturer’s handout for a certain topic, then attempt the relevant homework and exercise sheet and then either move on or further focus on that unit if any problems arose. Everyone has their own methods which work and its up to you try the methods you’ve heard of and then decide whether it will work for you.

Lastly, I would like to point out a useful resource which lecturers and the library website make available every year; Past exam papers. This may not strike you as a critical source for help but in University the lecturers which provide you with the lectures are the very people who write that module’s exam for you and so two major advantages can be taken from this. Firstly, they will never assess you on anything they haven’t personally covered within a lecture unlike A-levels when teachers weren’t necessarily able to prepare you for every question that came up in the national standardised exam. Secondly, there is a good chance the lecturer in question has written several exams for that module before and chances are that they all follow a particular question style/pattern hence handing you unrivalled preparation on a silver platter. Please take it!

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