Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Revision Busting Tips!


So this is probably the subject most on my and a lot of other students' minds right now. I've been taking exams every summer for, oooh, over twelve years now (eek!) so I've carefully honed my skills so that I'm now a well oiled revision machine! Well, not really, but I do have some ideas which have served me well over the past few years.

The Basics

.Make a revision buddy. I’m really good at getting up and working in the morning, but tend to get distracted in the afternoons, whereas my flatmate Kat is great at working long evenings, but finds it hard to motivate herself to get out of bed! Therefore by going to the library together most days we guilt-trip, cajole and otherwise force each other to get working. Plus it gives me someone to chat to on my breaks.

.Find a distraction free work space. Personally my bedroom is way too distracting to work in, so I go to the library to work during revision period. Even if your workspace is your bed or your living room or whatever try and keep it tidy and distraction free so you can focus only on work. .Make a lunch. If you get into the habit of making your lunch in the evening or morning before you start work then your much less likely to do as I have a bad habit of and spend ages wasting time at lunch deciding what to eat or popping to the shops because you don’t really fancy anything in the fridge, or all you own is peanut butter and weetabix…

.Make yourself a revision kit. Coloured pens cheer me up no end when I’m writing my notes (sad I know, but sometimes it’s the small pleasures that get you through the day!), a big bottle of water, or flask of tea, ruler, protractor, mechanical pencil? If you need it make sure you’ve got it. Along with a *lot* of paper!

.Some people swear by revision timetables, so they know exactly when they’re going to revise what and for how long. I find it useful to have some idea, but I don’t like to be too regimented. After all sometimes you’re just not in the mood for biology, but your desperate to do some Shakespeare, or in my case Integrated Circuit Electronics may be driving me batty, but the thought of Radiofrequency Engineering gets me all excited! Actually that’s a lie, the strongest feelings I’ve ever had towards RF is being mildly peeved.

When it gets really bad...

.My flatmate Kate has a bit of a novel approach to keeping herself going, which may work for you or drive you mad (I think I’d fall into the latter category!). She has a stopwatch that she starts when she starts working, and every time she goes for a break or to make a coffee or whatever she stops it again and restarts it when she gets back. That way she has no possible way to trick herself into thinking she’s done more work than she actually has!

.Change your location. There’s nothing worse than staring at the same four walls everyday for weeks on end, so try somewhere else. I had a housemate a few years back who liked to revise in the bath! If you can’t face moving your stuff somewhere else, make some revision posters so at least you can change what’s on the walls.

.Dress up! Ok, so this (admittedly) is my solution to everything, but the better dressed you are the better you feel - which is why there are so many happy fashion bloggers about! .Mix up your revision style. If you like to revise alone then try meeting up with a friend for coffee and a chat over those maths questions. If you like to write copious notes, try a mind map. If you only revise from past exam papers try reading a textbook for once! You might hate it, but equally you might find some things go in a little better.

.Take a break. Sometimes you just need to get away. There’s definitely such a thing as revising too much you know!

In your down time

.Good food. Make sure you keep a stock of healthy snacks and easy to cook meals to keep you going. Check out my previous post on how to be a student and not die from scurvy for ideas.

.Distractions are good - when you aren’t supposed to working that is! Give yourself a proper break by completely immersing yourself in something else – read a book, play a computer game, watch brainless TV, go to aerobics, anything that takes your mind somewhere else for a bit is a good thing.

.Don't go to a party. Just don't. Friday night saw me saying 'oh, no, it's fine, I'll totally just go to my friend's houseparty for a few hours then get up and be in the library for 9am on saturday morning...' Needless to say I was still in bed and not exactly feeling at my best at 11am the next day. This is not a good idea kids!

.Plan the good things you’re going to do after you finish. This is my favourite downtime activity! I’m currently making long lists of all the places I want to visit after my exams are done. Book that holiday you’ve been talking about for months, fill your amazon wishlist with books and dvds, spend your hours perusing ASOS for summer bargains – you deserve it!

Geek Out...
.So I literally just checked my rss feeds and discovered HiFashion had posted a similar article, for those of you with a bit less time on their hands, so if you need to study for an exam in three days check this out!
.My friend Ruth is the vice-president of my university union and runs our Revise campaign which has more tips and ideas here.

What are your tips for surviving the exam period with your sanity (mostly) in tact?


Sherin said...

The best advice I can give is never revise in the park. I did that once and got 5 mins worth of work done in 3 hours!
But water is the best thing during revision. Its what usually keeps me going.
Breaks are necessary no matter how little time you have. Its not good to just revise non stop.

Harriet said...

I'm so bad for that - I totally convince myself I can revise outside/in front of the tv/in bed at it's just not true! I don't have fun because I should be working, and I don't get any work done either!

Meg said...

Hi Harriet,

This is a really worthwhile post, and I was wondering if I could possible post the link on my blog - The Peer Pressure Project - on Friday in our important links feature? Thanks for considering!

Meg x