Exam season is here! Read BESSA's tips for how to revise effectively - BESSA
BESSA

Exam season is here! Read BESSA’s tips for how to revise effectively

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Revision for exams can be overwhelming when you think about how to cover everything you need to know.  With good planning and a structured approach, you can break up your study sessions and make it much easier to learn the content.

Create a revision timetable that prioritises the subjects you will be tested on first.  Put challenging topics before your favourites and you will find it easier to keep going.  Include your exam dates and times.  Stick to it! And you will feel more in control of your work, and avoid last minute panic.

Talk to your Teacher or Tutor

Revision is about refreshing what you have already learnt, not teaching yourself something new.  If you are struggling with a topic, don’t try it alone – go and see your teacher!  They know you, they know your strengths and which areas may need support and reinforcement. Don’t be afraid to ask them for clarification and further help. They are there to support your efforts and ultimately, to celebrate your accomplishments.

Active Revision

Just re-reading your notes is not a good way to revise. According to lots of scientific studies, you will remember less than 10% of what you read unless you also do something active to boost your memory.  Try re-writing or condensing (simplifying and shortening) your notes, creating posters, drawing mind maps or discussing a topic with friends.  This is because you use ‘muscle memory’ even for writing and drawing, and it supports the memory function of your brain.  Most people use book-based learning techniques but perhaps you prefer other study aids?  Image-led study guides, audio downloads and podcasts, physical exercises and other techniques can all improve fact retention.

Create a Comfortable Workspace

Think about where you’re going to be revising and make sure it’s a place where you can concentrate. You need good light, and enough space to spread out your notes, text books and other resources.

Avoid revising anywhere noisy or where there are distractions that will stop you from concentrating – try to stay out of rooms where other family members keep coming and going.  Have a drink of water handy, staying hydrated will help you to focus.

Most of all, be honest with yourself – music does not help anyone to revise (sorry, that’s a fact!), music is a distraction and nobody can work effectively with the TV, iPod, YouTube or radio on, so don’t dilute your revision time.

Quality and Quantity

Quality is just as important as quantity when you’re revising.  Nobody’s attention span is infinite.  It is impossible to concentrate for much more than an hour without a break.  A topic you’re struggling to get your head around might make more sense if you spend a few minutes away from your desk, stretch your legs and have a cup of tea.

It’s important to stay sociable when you’re revising – spend some time with friends and family in the evenings and, if you play a sport, try to keep it up during exam time. These activities will help you to relax and to prepare your mind and your body for more revision.

Stay Healthy

If you don’t look after yourself, you’ll find revising a whole lot harder. You need plenty of sleep, water, healthy food, and exercise.  When exams are approaching and you want to do well, it can be tempting to fill all of your time with revision. However, too much study could actually see you learning less, not more!  Avoid those marathon revision sessions, and study in manageable time blocks instead. Aim for 1 to 2 hours at a time.

Know How to Spot Stress, and Stop It

Exams are one of the most stressful times in a young person’s life.  Stress can cause headaches and lead to difficulty sleeping resulting in tiredness and increased anxiety – all of which are no help when you’re trying to concentrate on important work.

If you are stressed, talk to someone about it.  You can choose a friend, a parent or a trusted teacher but look for a solution, rather than getting even more wound up by comparing anxiety levels.  They will be there to support you.

And finally… pray for some GOOD LUCK!