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Five Best Ways To Revise For Exams, By An Oxbridge Applications Consultant

Posted: 05/18/2012 7:00 pm

Students all over the world are facing the music with school exams in full swing at the moment - not to mention finals for those already at university. And with students being tested on more information across a wide range of subjects, remembering what you've been taught is vital. Revision is an essential skill, but one that is often not taught nor mastered until too late in the day.

And so with this in mind, here are our top five tips for revision - any additions or suggestions most welcome and if you have an exam just around the corner - best of luck!

Have a complete set of notes

Do this before you leave school - if you've missed any lessons, ask a conscientious friend in your class if you can photocopy their notes (some kind of deliciously chocolaty treat as a sign of unending gratitude may be in order here). Don't just slot the pages into your folder - rewrite them in your own style. Everyone organises their thoughts differently on paper so it's good to have all the information in a format that suits you.

Work out how your learn best

Everyone learns in a different way and so it's useful to figure out what makes stuff stick in your brain before you embark on a major revision drive. Fleming's VARK model divides people into visual learners, auditory learners and kinaesthetic (or tactile) learners - and following this can help you plan your revision effectively.

If you're a visual learner you like seeing information - so try to organise the information you need to remember into diagrams, mind-maps and tables. If you're an auditory learner, you learn best through listening - so look for videos or lectures on the subjects you are studying, or try to arrange a time to meet with a friend and discuss or debate some of the ideas that you'll be tested on in the exam.

Kinesthetic learners like doing things - this is maybe the hardest for revision, but think about what you could explore: maybe go to the science museum and have a go at doing some of the experiments you will be tested on or go for a walk and try to identify some of the features you have studied in Geography.

Create a revision timetable (and stick to it!)

The aim here is for functionality, not aesthetic perfection. A good idea is to give yourself a time limit for creating your timetable so it doesn't eat into your proper revision time! Check through your syllabus and make sure that you are giving adequate attention to everything that could come up in the exam - it's really important that you are strict with yourself so that you don't end up spending two weeks on the first 5% of the content you've covered and then end up trying to cram everything else into the final couple of weeks. Try to come back to subjects a couple of days later - this will ensure that what you learn is transferred from your short-term memory to your long term memory - and will still be there when you come to sit the exam!

When creating your timetable you should be realistic. Studies show that people can only concentrate for about 45 minutes - so work in blocks like this, schedule in regular breaks for lunch and tea breaks and try to take 30 minutes every afternoon to go for a walk in the fresh air.

You should aim to complete all your learning a couple of weeks before the exam so that you have time to...

Put what you've learnt into practice

It's no good just staring at your notes or copying them out again - you need to test yourself by doing what you'll have to do in the exam. If you've got a maths exam, set yourself some randomly chosen exercises from the text book. If you've got French comprehension coming up, find an article from a French online paper and summarise it in 300 - 500 words in English. Preparing for History? Look for a past question and try to write a really comprehensive essay plan (including detailed examples!) in 20 minutes. Be adventurous in the ways in which you put yourself to the test - if you think it's useful, no doubt it is!

These are short tasks, but they will really highlight what you need to go over again: perhaps you've forgotten that magic formula, you need to go over your verbs again to get the tenses right - or there's that perfect example that would really clinch your argument that you can't quite remember. If you discover the gaps in your knowledge yourself and then take the time to fill them, chances are that knowledge won't escape you again - and you'll be confident to use it again in future.

Keep calm and carry on

Don't panic and don't cram! Keep healthy, get lots of sleep and don't go without TV or a relaxing cup of coffee with a friend in the name of puritanical, revision-focused existence.

There's only so much you can do - maximum eight hours per day if you're taking breaks when you should be - and you should reward yourself (if only to keep yourself sane) when you've worked hard.

Get the support of your parents and siblings - no interrupting you when you're working (even well-intentioned cups of tea can be a distraction and will interfere with your precision-engineered revision timetable) and healthy food for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Study-leave, revision and exams are tough, there's no doubt about it. Keep your chin up, your nose to the grindstone and your eyes on the prize - it will all be worth it when those university offers start rolling in!

 

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