Studying for upcoming exams can be daunting, especially if you’re a first year who has never taken a university exam before. Most will tell you that it’s not like studying for GCSEs or A-levels, and that it requires a lot more work and preparation. While that is true, a lot of the basic tips and tricks for revision remain the same.
Here’s our guide to help you out with revising for those upcoming exams:
How to Stop Procrastinating When Studying
Procrastination is a big problem when it comes to revision. Procrastinating is basically putting off doing something by getting distracted by something less pressing. Unfortunately, exams have upcoming dates that cannot be moved, and so you only have a set amount of time to get all your revision done by; you can’t afford to procrastinate the whole time.
Here are some general tips to quashing procrastination temptations:
- Get rid of distractions
Ignore anyone who says it’s possible to revise with the TV on, it’s not; switch it off and lock that phone away in a drawer.
- Revise in small intervals
Long slogs of revision sound horrible, and you’ll desperately try to resist starting. So set small revision increments like 30 minutes and then plan a break, so it doesn’t seem so daunting.
- Reward yourself
Do something for yourself as a reward for completing a revision session or learning a particular module, like eating your favourite dessert or taking a trip to the cinema.
- Get other people involved
We’re more likely to do things if we know someone is keeping an eye. Have a housemate hold you accountable and check-in with you when you say you’re going to do some revision.
- Slow but steady
Jumping straight from zero to ten is setting yourself up to fail, start small and work to build on that. A little revision one day, then a bit more the next and soon you’ll be able to complete full, uninterrupted revision sessions.
Now that your procrastination is under control, here’s how to actually do the studying:
Hopefully you’re not reading this post too late, but the earlier you start your revision, the better. Effective revision is not something to be rushed a week or so before the exam date; you need to give yourself plenty of time to refresh your memory of all the course material (or learn it for the first time if you didn’t attend those lectures).
Early has two meanings here, as revision will be much more productive earlier in the day. Consider starting first thing in the morning so you can get plenty done. A big reason that students avoid revision is that they want to socialise and go out, and they don’t want to miss out on the fun. Well, if you get your revision done early, you can call it a day by the afternoon and still do all the things you want to do in the evening.
Pick Your Topics
When revising for an exam, you need to know what might come up. Check out past papers and familiarise yourself with the exam format before you begin.
If your exam is for a particular module, separate the module into relevant topics and sections and tackle each one individually rather than trying to revise everything in one go. For essay-based exams, you likely need to learn some of the content in great detail, and possibly forgo a few topics in the syllabus as you won’t have time to learn everything in-depth. For short, answer-based exams, you will need a broader but less detailed understanding of the module.
Make a Planner
Planning your revision will make everything much more straightforward. Blindly saying you will revise on a specific day is probably not going to cut it, it will be too easy to waste time trying to decide what to look at and how long to spend studying it.
Instead, get a planner, whether a physical or online one, and plan the next few months of revision. Include when you revise specific topics, including what papers and notes you might need to look over, and how long you think you will need to spend based on how much you can already remember.
Plan out time for non-revision activities as well, like socialising, exercising and any other breaks you want to plan in. This will give you something to look forward to and should help you stay on track.
It might be a little time-consuming to plan everything at the start, but it will save you time in the long run as you do not have to plan on a day to day basis.
Explore Revision Methods
Hopefully you have a revision method you know works for you that you used in school. If not, there is still time to start exploring different ones and seeing what resonates with you the most. Here are a few revision techniques:
- Doing past papers
- Mind maps
- Studying in a group
- Recording yourself reading out the material and listening to it
- Teaching someone else the material
This might require some trial and error if you have no idea how you best study. So if you start early enough, you should be able to try a few out and figure out which one to stick with.
Take Regular Breaks
Revising solidly might sound like a great way to power through it all, but it’s not a realistic strategy. Our attention spans are much shorter than you think and trying to keep on revising for hours at a time will result in the information not being processed properly, and you’ll probably have to start all over again.
A good method is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break, repeating this four times in a row and then having a longer break. It works because you learn better over shorter sessions where you don’t have to punish yourself with unbroken hours of revision.
Make sure you factor in plenty of breaks during your revision so you don’t become burnt out.
Revising as a group can be an effective way to motivate each other, not to mention help each other out with shared knowledge. Try to form a group from your course and work together so you’re all revising the same module. Take it in turns teaching the group, being able to teach a topic to others is a great way to establish whether or not you know the subject well enough from memory.
Just make sure you set some ground rules about the use of mobile phones during revision time and getting off track. And don’t forget to factor those breaks into group sessions, too.
We hope these tips and tricks help you focus on your upcoming studies. From everyone here at CityBlock, we wish you the best of luck with your exams. If you’re looking for accommodation for when you ace those exams and come back next year, we offer student accommodation in Lancaster, student accommodation in Durham and student accommodation in Reading.