For most people, the timing and approach to exam revision depend on how well they have prepared their course-work in the first place. If you are someone who takes meticulous notes and revisits them regularly, you might be comfortable starting your revision two to three weeks before the exams. On the other hand, some people prefer to start several months in advance.
Regardless of your style, the quality of your revision directly affects your exam performance. To improve your preparation and retention of information, it’s a good idea to explore some new revision techniques based on recent research into memory and learning.
Analyze Your Previous Revision Experiences
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to revision. What works for you may not work for others. To determine when to start your revision, you need self-awareness and reflection on your past exam experiences. Consider when you started revising for previous exams and whether you felt adequately prepared or not. This analysis will give you insights into your ideal revision timeline.
Start at Least a Month in Advance
Experts generally recommend starting revision at least a month before the university exams. This gives you enough time to delve deeply into the subjects and concepts. If you have been actively attending lectures, seminars, and keeping up with coursework, your revision will be more manageable and less stressful.
Learn to Use the Pomodoro Technique: Revise Little and Often
Avoid cramming and adopt a more effective learning approach. The Pomodoro technique suggests dedicating 25-minute intervals to focused learning or revision, followed by short breaks. Distributed learning, with frequent but shorter study sessions, has been proven to be more effective than long periods of concentrated study.
Sleep and Exercise
Ensure you incorporate regular exercise and sufficient sleep into your schedule. Exercise and sleep are essential for consolidating learned information and strengthening memory. Some evidence suggests revising just before bedtime can aid retention.
A balanced diet with whole foods can provide the energy and nutrients needed for effective revision. Avoid greasy, fried foods that may make you feel sluggish. Stay hydrated throughout the day to support brain function.
Taking breaks during revision is crucial for effective learning. When studying intensively for several hours a day, make sure to take short breaks of around five to fifteen minutes. During breaks, engage in activities that refresh your mind without distracting you from your studies.
Create Revision Notes but Use Mixed Techniques
As exams approach, create concise revision notes, including diagrams and flow charts. Past papers and revision guides are also valuable resources. Varying your revision techniques will help you avoid monotony and improve overall retention.
Remember to stay calm during the revision period. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, or yoga can be helpful. Reward yourself for productive revision sessions, and don’t forget to find moments of relaxation during this intense period.