Exams can be a daunting time for even the most diligent of students, let alone those of you more inclined to procrastinate. Never fear, the Complete University Guide is here. Whether you’ve left it till the last minute or you’re ahead of the game, our revision tips will help to ensure exam success.
1) Know the syllabus
What do you need to know? Perhaps the number 1 tip for exam success is knowing what’s included on the syllabus. Lecturers and teachers alike will have a basic set of aims and objectives they’re required to ensure their students achieve. Find out what you’re supposed to know and revise accordingly.
2) Get organised
Time to get yourself organised. Even if, as the title of this article suggests, you’re leaving your revision till the last minute – there’s still time to organise. Sort the syllabus into a checklist (if it’s not already done) and decide when, where and how you’re going to learn each point.
Draw up a revision timetable. Even if the exam’s in a week, a few days, tomorrow, this afternoon – as ludicrous as that may sound, it’ll help to focus your learning.
3) Be flexible
Quite contrary to the previous point, plans aren’t the be all and end all. This was something I struggled with during my tenure at university. Too many times I overslept and thought, “Well that’s it, the day is wasted, start again tomorrow”. This attitude certainly ain’t going to wash in the real world. Sometimes life (yes, having a lie-in is life) gets in the way of your plans, dust yourself off and adjust.
4) Talk through what you’ve learnt
And don’t just talk it through in the corridor 5 minutes before the exam. You’ll only get yourself into a panic worrying about what you think you don’t know. Make time for discussion in the weeks and days leading up to the big event. There are few better ways of consolidating your revision then by going toe to toe (academically speaking) with one of your esteemed colleagues. You’ll pick stuff up and maybe teach them a thing or two.
5) Do past papers
If you are truly coming to your revision at the last minute, I urge you to heed this piece of advice. There is a finite number and combination of questions your department can ask you. Familiarise yourself with these via the magic that is past papers. It’s rarely the case that past papers aren’t accessible – your university or school wants you to pass. When it comes to essay questions, read between the lines – you’ve probably seen the question before, its just been worded slightly differently.
6) Take regular breaks
An old stalwart when it comes to revision advice, recited since time immemorial – take regular breaks! Don’t take our word for it, scientific research indicates that taking breaks during revision gives the brain a higher chance of remembering what you’ve crammed into it. Try 50 minutes on, 10 minutes off.
Do something entirely different for at least a couple of hours in the evening. Watch TV, go for a walk, just generally de-stress, your nerves will appreciate it.
7) Eat healthily
Eating healthily during the exam period is a great way of letting everything else take care of itself, so that you can focus on the task at hand. Lots of fruit and veg will give you the minerals, ions and vitamins you need to stave off nasty germs and maintain other bodily functions – need I say more? Carbs for energy, protein for growth and repair – you know the score. You might want to think about getting some omega 3 (brain food) into your diet, found in oily fish or as handy capsules.
Exercise gets the blood flowing. This means more oxygen will reach the brain and help it to function more efficiently. Anything you can do to get the brain working well is surely welcome during the exam period. Plus, it makes for a nice respite from studying – win, win.
There’s no denying that performing well in exams is important and can be an accessory to a successful future, but that’s all – an accessory. Not every success story performed well academically.
If you find your palms sweating and you tense up at the very thought of exams, just put a bit of perspective on life – take a deep breath and chill.