Revise smart, not hard, and get the best grades
As the midterms or finals approach, students begin to panic at the amount of revision they need to do. You might feel even more nervous if you didn’t revise much during the semester and only submitted essays and peer projects. Now, you need to make most of your time to remember the course material and prepare your best to get a desired grade from the professor.
Indeed, spending days and nights in the library revising isn’t a very inspiring experience. However, there are tried-and-true ways to organize your time effectively, reduce stress and eventually prepare better for whatever exam is coming. Follow the tips from the top college essay writers to get through the tricky examination period with ease.
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10 tips for effective exam revision
Just like any other learning activity, successful exam revision requires persistence, schedule and figuring out which techniques are the most effective personally for you. Use the techniques below to ease the learning process:
- Start revising in advance before the exam
You’ve probably heard this tip from your teachers and instructors for thousand times, but they advise it because it works. Trying to cramp a semester’s syllabus in your head in a night or two is an ineffective learning technique: it’s stressful, it exhausts your body and mind, and the new material won’t stay in your memory for long. The ideal tactic is to start revising 10 days or two weeks in advance before the exam, learning the course material in bite sizes. In this way, your brain will retain the material longer and you’ll avoid the late nights before the exam.
- Start the revision process early in the morning
Surrounding yourself by books once you’ve gotten out of bed might be the last thing that you feel like doing. But it proves to be the most efficient approach to revising. Firstly, if you start in the morning, high are the chances that by the evening you’ll be done and can go out or focus on other commitments of your student life. Secondly, as you postpone the start of the revision, you’ll feel more and more stressed because the tasks are not going anywhere. And finally, starting early will relieve you from all-nighters and ensure a healthy sleep which is also important before the exams.
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- Create a learning schedule
Revising chaotically and switching from subject to subject aren’t your best friends if you want to revise effectively. Before you get down to revision or head to the library, create a timetable and schedule time for revision interfered by short and longer breaks. Experts recommend that you use a Pomodoro technique which includes learning for 25 minutes and then taking 5-minute breaks. After two hours, you can take a 30-minute break. It’s also a good idea to alternate the subjects – for instance, revise macroeconomics after the American history. The schedule keeps you focused and helps to get back on track even if you get distracted. Similarly, make sure to plan other activities such as socializing, exercising, etc.
- Understand what type of learner you are
To revise faster and remember more, it’s necessary to determine your optimal working style first. Everyone has the most effective way of remembering new information. Some need to use graphic elements such as graphs, charts, pictures, or colorful notes. Some are comfortable with reading and taking notes. And others need to hear someone read the information aloud and repeat it. Take some time to figure out how you remember the course material best, and stick to your preferred method. This also includes understanding whether you are more productive in the mornings or evenings and adjusting your schedule accordingly.
- Create a productive learning environment
Just like the learning style, the perfect place for revision is individual. Some say that working from a library is more productive than from home, and the quiet and focused environment helps them to deeply concentrate. Other college students revise better in their room where nobody distracts them. Some prefer going to a public place such as a park or a coffee shop and find the noise on the background stimulating. Try revising from different locations to figure out what works for you. You might also feel comfortable when studying together with your peers, or with music playing in the background.
- Find time to exercise
The advice to exercise during your revision period might sound trivial, but it has a scientific explanation. Physical activity increases heart rate, and as a result your brain gets more oxygen which helps you study more effectively. Moreover, exercise helps you distract and unwind, reducing the stress caused by intense study sessions. Choose the type of physical activity you enjoy most – jogging, gym, yoga, stretching, etc. It’s important, though, that you exercise for no less than 30 minutes.
- Schedule regular breaks
Previously, we’ve recommended that you create a schedule, and it’s important that you schedule breaks in-between the revision sessions as well. Immersing yourself in the subject for hours might seem more productive to you, yet, in fact, learning in a non-stop mode will exhaust you fast and you’ll start losing concentration. As a result, it will take you more time and energy to keep your focus sharp. Meanwhile, taking short regular breaks will help you save this focus and concentration. Take 5-10 minute breaks and use them to take a walk, have some coffee, check your social media or watch a couple of videos.
- Eliminate all distractions
Revision isn’t the most enjoyable process in the world, so it’s natural that you’ll be tempted to distract and relax a little bit. However, a distraction can sabotage your revision process – having distracted to respond to one message, you might find yourself on YouTube watching cat videos. So, get rid of all possible distractions before you get down to learning – put your phone away, switch off the Wi-Fi if you don’t need it, and make sure you have the drinks and stationery next to you so that you won’t have to interrupt the revision. You can get distracted during the breaks to unwind and relax a bit, but do your best to stick to the schedule.
- Take notes and teach someone
Reading a textbook is not enough to successfully retain the information. To remember more and to structure the new information in your brain, don’t neglect taking notes as you read. The process of taking notes can be just as individual as your preferred revision process – some prefer writing an outline, while others summarize each chapter of the book. Another helpful technique is to teach someone what you’ve just learned. It’s a good test of how well you’ve learned the material – if you struggle to remember the key concept or to explain something to a friend or sibling, you might need to revise again. Teaching also helps organize your knowledge in a structured manner.
- Use non-trivial revision methods
In addition to the above methods of revising the course material, there are also several less known, non-trivial creative ways to get ready for an exam. You might want to use one of them as well:
• Record yourself as you read the dates, formulas, terms or words from a foreign language and listen to this audio as you walk or commute. The information you hear passively for multiple times tend to be remembered better.
• Use a weird air freshener. Unfamiliar and weird scents keep our nose awake and thus improve our concentration. Use an air freshener with a non-standard scent in a room where you revise (provided that it’s not a public place).
• Wear the same perfume as you revise before the exam and in the exam day. If your brain associates a particular scent with study, chances are you’ll find it easier to remember more of what you’ve learned during the exam.
• Reward yourself. You deserve a treat after hours of intense study. Plan doing something good as soon as you’ve done with revision. You might plan an evening out with friends, buy your favorite sweets or a new shirt.
If the exams are approaching, take full advantage of the above tips to ease your revision process. By preparing thoroughly, you’ll learn more and avoid the necessity to stay up late before the exam.
How to make it through exam day?
- Find out the exam rules in advance. Ask the instructor as much about the exam as possible. Clarify the format of the test, the structure, how much time you’ll be given, what you need to bring and if they allow restroom breaks.
- Have a good night’s sleep. To help your brain work productively during the exam, have a good sleep the night before the exam. Quality sleep will reduce stress and help you stay concentrated throughout the exam.
- Read questions and instructions carefully. When you’re stressed, you might overlook the details of the question and give an incorrect answer. For instance, some test questions can have several answers, and make sure you are answering exactly what is asked.
- Plan your time carefully. Your exam time is limited, so plan it carefully so that it’s enough to answer all the questions. You might want to answer the simple questions in the first place, and then return to those which require much thought. Also, leave some time to check and revise your answers in the end.
- Write something even if you don’t know the answer for sure. Try to answer all the questions. Even if you are not sure that you know the right answer, write something that you feel might be relevant. Chances are, you’ll get a few points for this answer and get a better score.
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