Revision. Urgh. Even reading the word raises blood pressure. Sadly it’s got to be done. So, if you’ve got to do it, do it effectively and smartly to ease the pain.
Make yourself a revision timetable.
If you’re a postgraduate, this is likely to be the LAST revision timetable you may ever draw up. Wahaaay! It’s tempting to get yourself a pack of felt tips and spend the day making neat colourful boxes to demarcate your carefully thought out timetable, but let’s be honest, it’s just a procrastination tool. So just get on it with it, and make the most of the free templates available on the net, the BBC has a good one. Make sure you plan in breaks and time to eat!
Cramming won’t work.
And that’s not just cramming the night before, that’s revising for 12-hour periods without decent breaks. You’re setting yourself up for a headache and you’ll struggle to recall what you’ve revised. Give yourself breaks!
Break your work into chunks.
Work for 25 minutes, then get up, have a stretch, go to the bathroom, look out the window for a minute or two. Repeat this 3 or 4 times and then give yourself a decent break. Put down the notes, push the laptop away and go have a cup of tea or a snack for about 15 minutes. This isn’t wasted time, it’s all sinking in- and allowing your brain to recover from that intense workout you’ve just given it!
Set yourself a realistic target.
And do it everyday. Each morning work out what you want to achieve in that day and try to stick to it. Make sure you set your own targets which suit your capabilities- not your library friend’s.
Turn the TV off.
Trying to combine relaxing with revision is a bad mix. You might think you can multitask, but really what’s happening is you’re not giving all your attention to your revision. Try to keep units of time set for specific tasks; revision, eating, exercising, sleeping, socializing (you still need to do this to keep your sanity). Some studies suggest light background music might be okay, but repeats of Friends has alas never been proven.
Wifi is only for downloading articles and getting PPT’s off Moodle!
When you pause to think about your next revision point or what you’re going to write, don’t use it as an opportunity to check Facebook/ Twitter/ Tumblr/ Instagram/ E-mail/BBM/Skype/WhatsAp! Turn your phone onto silent and ideally turn your WiFi off! Only check during your allocated breaks.
Download some past papers.
Pulling some papers off the LSE library is really a must. Go through several years of past papers and try to pull out ‘themes’ of questions, this will allow you to revise savvy. Once you’ve done some revision, grab a past paper and set yourself a ‘mock exam’. This allows you to test your timing and exam technique. Once you’ve finished go over your practice paper and spot gaps in your knowledge that you need to swot up on.
Work out what type of learner you are.
Use revision styles that suit how you best learn. There’s no point making yourself a pretty mindmap if you’re a kinesthetic learner is there?
Start with the dawn chorus.
The mind is the most alert first thing in the morning. So that means no late nights! Start with the subject/topic you like least, while your powers are still at their strongest. Getting up means you can make the most of the day, and it also means you can keep the for evening relaxing.
Call in reinforcement.
Forge alliances with your classmates and become study buddies. Meet up for a couple of hours once you’ve revised all your topics and go over what you’ve learnt and write out exam model exam answers. Try to keep your group revision sessions to a set amount of time- 3 hours at the max- make up an excuse if you need to so you known the session will only go on for certain period of time. After this your concentration will go and it will just become a time to muck around and gossip.
If things are getting a bit overwhelming this exam season, remember you aren’t alone. LSE has a professional, free and anonymous counselling service for students. They can also advice you on school-related matters such as applying for mitigating circumstances. For more information on how to access the counselling services, click here.