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Top Tips #9: 5 tips on preparing for your exams and revision

8 May 2018

With exam season upon us, students across the country are preparing to start their exams and embark on their final weeks of revision. While exams can be a stressful time, there are a number of things you can do to make sure your revision is as effective and efficient as possible. The trick is to approach revision in the right way to make it seem less like a chore and more like the positive learning experience it is.

Top Tip #1: Get organised

Cramming your revision in the night before the exam, and staying up until the early hours of the morning to make sure you’ve covered everything, can mean you are less likely to retain information due to being tired and unable to properly concentrate in your exams. It doesn’t mean you will fail, but it certainly won’t mean that you will do your best.

By planning ahead, you can make sure you have covered all the important information you need to know and that you are able to fit your revision in in good time. It also ensures that your revision is spread out and you’re not spending too long on one subject.

Top Tip #2: Make a study timetable

By creating a timetable of when you will revise – whether you block it out in hours, half days or full days – can ensure that you are covering all the important information for each of your subjects. Not only will a timetable ensure you are revising enough to retain the information, it can also allow you to schedule in time for breaks.

Some experts say that starting your timetable early in the day can make sure you have enough time to revise, but it’s best to schedule your revision around when you’re most productive. Some people study better during the mornings or afternoons, and some find it easier to study after lunch or in the evening.

It’s also a good idea to break your revision up into smaller parts – schedule ten minute breaks every hour and a half – take your eyes away from the papers or computer screen, stay well hydrated and make sure you have a walk around and stay active.

Top Tip #3: Have a good night’s sleep before your exam

There’s nothing worse than going in to an exam when you’re tired – and it certainly won’t help you concentrate. Having a good night’s sleep can help ensure you retain information, as well as learn new skills. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and making some time during the day for exercise, can also help you fall asleep easier and deeper.

Taking a quick nap during your down time between revision slots can help you to consolidate the information you’ve been revising that day; napping for between 10 and 20 minutes allows your body to complete a full REM cycle.

Top Tip #4: Don’t make it all about revision

It’s important to make sure you also schedule in time for other things – whether that’s watching TV, doing sports or going out to see friends. Having this down time can increase your motivation for your timetabled revision slots. Create your timetable with friends so you can ensure you have the same time scheduled for socialising with each other.

Doing sports is a great way to release endorphins, and can help you to retain information better, stay alert and have a great night’s sleep. You can even study while you exercise – for example while running on a treadmill – the change of scenery can be a welcome break from sitting at a desk and ensure revision doesn’t become monotonous.

Top Tip #5: Try different styles of learning

Revising doesn’t have to mean sitting at a desk reading notes from the past year. There are a number of creative and fun ways you can adapt your revision to help you learn and retain information better. One of the most simplistic of these is using revision tools such as colourful post-its, highlighting your work and creating mood boards for each of your subjects with the key facts you need to remember.

Getting other people involved can also make revision more interesting. Consider scheduling study groups with friends to share ideas and test each other – you’ll still be learning just by asking the questions and listening to how your friends respond. Or, try teaching someone else the subject you’re revising – this will not only help you verbally retain the information, but also absorb information by creating a ‘lesson’ that has all the key facts you need to remember too.

Preparing to take your exams at GC? Have you visited your Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) yet? You’ll need to sign in with your college username and password, but once you’re on you will have access to lecture notes, extra information uploaded by your tutors, the e-library, and other great resources to help you plan your revision.

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