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Revising for exams can be a challenge therefore the best approach you could adopt is to establish good study habits as early as possible. This study guide is intended to give you tips and ideas to help you learn to plan more effectively for your exams. It will give you some practical tips and strategies you can use to plan a revision schedule, make better revision notes and guide you through a variety of techniques you can try to help you commit information to memory.
Start to think ahead as you work through your course modules and make a note of the key topics covered and organise your lecture notes so they are readily accessible for when it is time to start revising. Try to understand the module concepts as you go along and ask questions in seminars and tutorials if you don't understand something as understanding is the key to helping you remember significant theories, formulas, and models. This allows you to fill gaps in your knowledge as you go along, rather than once the module is over.
Try to start preparing for your exams as early as possible. Read your module guidance carefully and make a note of exam dates and work back from there. Identify how many weeks until the actual exam/s to create a revision schedule and stick to it! Review and update your schedule to keep track of any changes in your planning.
Remembering a vast amount of course material may seem like a daunting task but with the right tools and techniques you can start to commit information to your long term memory. The trick is to do something with the information you are reading rather than simply re-reading your notes in the hope that something will eventually sink in.
Condense your notes
Reduce notes to headings, make summary points and key words using highlighters:
Use cards, coloured paper, coloured pens and symbols if they help you. At each stage try to condense from memory without using the previous stage notes as this is the best way to ensure that you are ready to move to a briefer version and have committed information to memory. Try to fill in your gaps in knowledge beforehand. Ask yourself, 'is there anything that I don't know and what do I need to go back and read up on?'
You can also try creating visual representations using mindmaps like below:
You don't need to be artistic to create a mindmap! You might want to investigate the software available for creating mindmaps through AppsAnywhere. The Assistive Technology team offer training sessions on how to use the Mindview software for creating mindmaps, and there are a range of how-to videos on their website.
To help you recall what you learn try experimenting with memory techniques.
Although not a universally useful technique, visual mnemonics can be helpful where a list has to be memorised. For example:
'SELECTDEP' could remind you to explore various factors in an exam question or a memorable picture may help to fix information that fits together in a model or theory in your mind:
The day before
Whilst it may be tempting to try and cram in an all-day revision session the day before your exam, this is not advisable as its unlikely you'll learn anything new properly. Instead try to relax, remain calm and prepare yourself mentally for being fresh and alert for the exam itself. Aim to:
On the day and during the exam
Make sure you have breakfast and arrive early for the exam.
Strategies to try if your mind goes blank