Revision is unfortunately an essential part of school, college, and even university life, so follow this selection of classic (and quirky) revision tips to get you through your all-important exams.
The undeniable link between sleep and memory formation in the brain makes getting enough sleep the best advice for studying students. Despite the stress surrounding the exam season, try to get as much sleep as possible as it will improve your quality of revision and concentration afterwards.
2. TAKE BREAKS
Also linked to improving memory and concentration, taking enough regular breaks is a must for revising students. Each student is different, so take breaks when works best for you.
3. START REVISION EARLY
It’s called revision, not learning, so aim to have read everything through weeks before you start actually revising. If you’re learning new material on the run up to an exam you will have much less chance of remembering it.
4. PAST PAPERS
Doing past exam papers in a controlled time and then marking your own work is a great way to judge your progress and get your timing right. It is also a great way for you to think about what you are revising, rather than simply reciting facts over and over. Most examination boards provide past papers and mark schemes for free on their websites so check whether these are available for your exam.
5. CHEW GUM
Chewing gum has been scientifically proven to improve concentration, and often allows people to work for much longer periods of time without getting distracted. Remember to not chew for too long though as some gums, especially sugar free and mint flavoured ones, are not especially healthy or easy on your digestion.
6. WORK WHEN IS BEST FOR YOU
Everybody has their own niche of optimal working time during the day or night. If you prefer to work late then don’t feel bad for then waking up later in the mornings. Similarly if you work best in the mornings don’t be afraid to go to bed before 9 or 10pm.
7. EAT AND DRINK SENSIBLY
Almost 80% of your brain is made of water so keep hydrated to aid concentration. Try to avoid energy drinks as they are packed with chemicals which aren’t doing your brain or body any favours. If you really feel you need some caffeine try some tea or coffee instead. When it comes to food try to stay healthy too. Students tend to either stress-eat junk food, or forget about eating when it comes to lengthy revision, so try to find a balance which works for you.
8. THE ‘POST-IT NOTE TECHNIQUE’
The premise of this is like any ‘to do list’ but for every task you need to do (for example a timed past paper) write it on a post it note and stick it on the wall. Do this for all tasks you think you’ll need to do before you sit your exam. Once you’ve completed a task you can remove the post it from the wall. This technique is great because you can visualise exactly what is left to be done and I find this much more helpful than a generic revision timetable.
The best way to remember something is to teach it to someone new. Even if your parents have no knowledge of organic chemistry or the second world war, explain a concept to them so they understand. This will help improve your memory as your brain can recall that information in additional ways.
10. DON’T TAKE PERFORMANCE ENHANCERS
The stress of exams gets to every student, and more and more academics are expressing concern for growing numbers of students taking performing enhancing drugs to give them an edge during revision and exams. Drugs like Ritalin and Modafinil are currently the main culprits but their speculated benefits are however counteracted by a huge list of side effects which young people especially need to be very wary of. To name just a few: disrupted sleep, anxiety, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, odd toilet habits (not ideal for an exam!), heart palpitations, and even psychosis. In addition they come with a price tag and some schools are considering introducing drug testing to catch students on performance enhancers. Stick to old fashioned revision and leave the drugs out.
written by Eleanor Haynes (Durham University)