Love it or loathe it, revision is an important part of your studies. So how can you make sure that your revision is effective?
- Make sure you're in an environment that's conducive to study. So no studying on your bed, make sure you're at a desk or table where you've got plenty of space for all your notes and revision materials. Make sure you're in a quiet, well lit room. And switch your phone on to silent!
- Draw up a revision timetable. Don't spend too long on this, just outline how long you're going to revise for each day and the rough times, e.g. every afternoon from 4pm-6pm.
- Beat procrastination by using the Pomodorro method. It's almost impossible to concentrate for hours on end, so this technique gets you to study for 25 minute chunks of time, followed by 5 minutes of 'reward' time (time to check Facebook or Twitter, get a drink and a snack etc). In your 25 minute Pomodorro you need to focus just on what you're revising and resist the temptation to just check something on the internet that could mean you waste time. With your concentration firmly fixed on your revision you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish in your 25 minutes! After four Pomodorro sessions take a longer break (30 mins) or finish your revision for the day.
- Beat boredom by mixing up your revision. Don't stick to a single subject. Ideally change subjects every 25 minutes or hour.
- Don't just read or highlight your notes! Research has shown that doing both these things is useless when it comes to revision. Rather you need to be active, so make notes from the textbook (but don't copy!) or your class notes. Each time you make notes you should be condensing your notes, distilling them down to the essential facts and information.
- Make mindmaps. Again, another active revision technique that helps you to organise the information in your notes and remember them.
- Test yourself. This is one of the most powerful things you can do. Either cover up your notes and try to summarise or reproduce the information in them. You can also test yourself with flash cards (more about this below).
- Make flash cards. Use index cards and put a question on one side and the answer on the other (can be a few words, diagram, paragraph etc). This is a really powerful technique and helped me get 83% in one of my final year exams at University! Once you've made your cards you can test yourself by shuffling them, reading the questions as they come up and trying to answer them, checking your answer with the one on the back. You can even get your parents and friends to test you with your flash cards. When going through your cards put them into three piles - (1) those you know the answer to, (2) ones you struggled on but knew at least half the information (3) those you didn't know at all. Then test yourself more regularly on the ones you struggled on the most, but mix in the other cards from time to time to make sure you don't forget them.
- Look after yourself. Make sure you're getting a good nights sleep every night, that you're not having lots of junk food, no coffee or energy drinks after 6pm, and take some exercise regularly. All these things will ensure that you can learn as effectively as possible.
- Reward yourself! Hopefully you’ve got a realistic revision plan or schedule (if not, make one!). Tell yourself that if you stick to it then you can have a reward, such as a day off revision a week or anything you enjoy. For me it’s cheesecake! Tell your parents, grandparents and anyone else around you. That way you’re more likely to stick to it.