Revise intelligently

Revise intelligently


Revise intelligently

There are many of you out there who are unable to come out of their stress and depression, having failed either their 10th Board exam or their 2nd PU.  Many young people will register to retake the exams, but in my opinion they are likely to repeat their failure because of their inability to cope with exam anxiety, stress and a planned approach to revision.

The last minute cramming for exams is the worst thing you can do.  It adds to stress and you are unlikely to receive good marks because you will not be able to remember much of what you crammed; it takes planning and self-discipline, not burning the midnight oil, to avoid cold sweats and poor grades.  It makes much more sense to start the revision in plenty of time.

When revising for exams, you firstly need to be aware of your learning style when you revise.  Are you a visual learner? Visual learners need to make Mind Maps – and rewrite their notes and key points in such a format.  The use of colour sketch pens, or coloured ink pens enables visual learners to create high quality Mind Maps which stick in the mind. They need to draw sketches and diagrams to enable them to internalise facts. For visual learners, just reading the text book does not work!

If you are an auditory leaner, you need to read your notes out loud.  Listen to your own voice.  Record yourself on cassette or CD and make yourself read the key points of your notes. Then play back and listen to the notes. Play them over and over again.  Then see if you can make written notes without the aid of the tape. Auditory learners benefit from revision with another student and discussing the key points.  Sing a rap song of the main points or link them to a tune which is simple to follow.

Some students are readers and writers. They need to write and feel themselves kinaesthetically using the writing movement, plus reading it at the same time; combined with re-reading and editing. If you fall into this category – copy out the notes, read the notes silently, rewrite the key points, then rewrite the key points using different words and finally cover up the notes and write down the key points from memory.

Some students are hyperactive. They need to be active whilst learning. They would benefit from walking around a room reading their notes, writing down lists and then revising the lists when doing physical activity, mentally reviewing what they have been revising whilst swimming or jogging. Again, a recording of notes, then doing a physical activity and listening, are an excellent memory aid.

How much time have you got? How much do you need to do? Ideally you need to complete all revision a week before the exams. This enables you some flexibility and a chance to spend longer on something that proves difficult. Give yourself a little break before the exam. Selection of topics is very important; understand yourself and the need to revise certain topics more than those that you are comfortable with.  Be totally realistic about your personal targets and how much time you need.  Balance out the topics so that you spend more time on the subjects that you are less confident about.

Revision needs to be Active.  It is not enough to just re-read notes. Get plenty of paper and writing materials handy and study a section of your notes and memorise the essential points.  Next, start writing the same points with your notes hidden. Now, check your notes, learn from any points you got wrong and learn them. The next stage is to reduce your notes to essential points, either by highlighting or underlining, and moving these points to make your own memory aids on index cards.  Use a separate card for each topic and write down the important points to remember about each topic. Take the cards with you and review them in your spare moments.

Use old exam papers as a study guide. Make outline plans for the answers and notice that each year the questions are varied slightly. Use your time well when you study, set yourself a limit and decide to do so much. Do not do too much at once. Take a break from time to time in each period set aside for study.  Long hours do no good.

Reward yourself and look after yourself during the time of study.  When making a plan, acknowledge that you have understood a topic and mark it up. Trust yourself and recognise when you achieve something. Once you know a topic move on to the next topic. Do not keep on going over the topics you already have mastered. Trust your own ability to retrieve information once it is internalised. Remember your memory is like a series of Post-it-Notes in the brain.  You use these notes and your working memory wakes up and makes use of the information.

While revising you need to look after yourself.  Eat a good diet try not to study and eat at the same time. Avoid too much caffeine as this leads to anxiety and leads to insomnia.  Balance work, healthy diet and exercise. Twenty minutes of exercise three times a week will give you stamina and reduce stress.  Do not work throughout the night before the exam. Get as much rest as you can.

Finally, the day of the exam! Eat well, trust yourself and your ability, organise your things in preparation. Make sure you are comfortable in your clothing and avoid talking to nervous people just before the exam as this will increase your own nervousness. Take a sweet into the exam hall to increase your blood sugar levels when you are tired. Read the instructions for questions carefully.  What is it the examiners are asking you to do? Read through all the questions before deciding your choice. 

Divide the time by the number of questions you have to answer and work out how much time you will give to each answer. If five questions are asked for, marks are allocated for each one.  There is no point spending all your time on just three questions. Make an attempt at the number of questions that you are asked to answer.

If the questions are essay-style spend a few minutes noting down your ideas in a list; ideas which you will include in the question. Put them in a logical order and write your answer.  It is a good idea to practise this type of timed writing of answers as part of your revision routine.
In conclusion, the key to revising successfully for exams is:

*Making use of your learning style and planning in good time.  
*Using the methodology of active revision and establishing an index of key points for revision.  
*Using old exam papers as examples and practising answering the question.  
*Pacing your rate of studying and rewarding yourself when you achieve your goal.
*Trusting your working memory and looking after yourself physically and mentally.

A carefully planned operation will ensure success and restore faith in one’s self-worth.

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