Revision is an inevitable aspect of your time at university. As a Mentor, Tutor and Study Advisor for the University’s Study Skills Team, I am often asked to help students with their revision techniques, so I’d like to share my top tips for effective revision.
The foundation of successful revision is organisation. Simple factors such as ensuring you have the correct resources at hand (books, library journals, logins for websites) guarantee that you are prepared for your revision session. If you require a large amount of resources for your modules and often find yourself forgetting to obtain the necessary equipment from university, simply make a list of what you need before you break up for study leave.
I have always found that having a revision plan is the most important factor to my revision success. Even when it’s not exam time and even during the holidays, I always create a weekly plan of what I am aiming to achieve and what I will be doing each day. Start by making a list of the topics you must revise and how you intend to revise each of them, buy a calendar/diary where you can write down your deadlines/exam dates, and then plan your workload.
I find starting the day early and working on a particular topic/module up until the evening to be useful as I am dedicating a whole day to that subject. However, you may want to incorporate some breaks into your plan in order to ensure you restore your energy and are more productive.
If you’re stuck with how to start, I’d recommend revising your notes from lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials, condensing them into bullet points and typing the key areas up on a Word document. That way you don’t have to look through all of your notes as they’re neatly organised under subheadings on a Word document. Also, if you have other notes to add whilst revising, it’s a lot neater than handwriting your notes. After typing up your key notes, refer to supporting material from lectures, such as lecture slides, which you can use to remind yourself of the key concepts/theories. I would spend a significant proportion of time on secondary research and reading what critics or theorists in the field have said about the topic. The library has a plethora of resources from books, articles, journals, DVDs, CDs and online resources.
Practice makes perfect
Exam papers are a great way to test out your knowledge, get used to the style of questioning and seeing how far you get in the allocated time. I would always practice every single exam paper that I could get my hands on and you even notice how particular themes are repeated throughout the years but written in a different format.
If your exam requires you to recall information, facts and statistics about a topic then try writing a short summary (without the help of notes) and give it to your lecturer to mark and check your understanding. Also, try explaining your topic to your peers as verbally explaining complex concepts helps you to grasp them.
Most importantly, seek help! Your lecturers and tutors are specialists in the area and are there to help you to reach your potential.
Remember to stay calm and be satisfied with doing your best.