Monday, February 22, 2010


Ten Top Exam Revision Tips How to Revise for Exams in School, College and University A guide to the vital aspects of exam revision for students of all ages! CC 1. Don’t do it all at once. We only retain a certain amount of what we learn in a single sitting. You are far better off spreading your revision over a week than cramming the night before (if you have no choice, see here. Even fifteen minute slots before you go to bed each night, or on the journey to school can make all the difference. 2. Walk the dog (or tortoise, or small sibling, or whatever). Go for short walks whenever you can. The change of scenery will stimulate your imagination and your learning capabilities. Take a sheet of paper with a few quotes to learn for an essay, or some formulae, or a vocabulary list, and you’ll be surprised at how much more you take in just being outside. 3. Cram it all in – onto one sheet of paper, that is. Try to summarise a module or a topic on a single sheet of paper that you can stick to your wall. Not only will you be reminded of your notes whenever you walk past them, but fitting the material into a set space forces you to mentally organise the information, a massive step towards learning it. Making your notes is 50% of your revision 4. Get personal. Relate your notes to your bedroom, to your favourite colours, your favourite foods. Make up stories involving the information you have to learn. Once for an exam, I had to remember the stages of a phonological change called ‘Grimm’s Law’. It was indeed grim (just like that pun). 5. Get out the colouring pens! Making all of your revision notes in black ballpoint is fatal – buy some cheap felt tips and write different words in different colours. Pictures tell a thousand words, remember, especially if they’re in colour. 6. Shout it for the world to hear. You might feel an idiot at first, but it is definitely worth reading your revision notes aloud. Even better, get a friend to quiz you on the intricacies of electromagnets, or insist on explaining the plot of Hamlet to your mum. Speaking practice is essential for the revision of foreign languages. Even saying basic words like “yes” and “no” and “please pass the ketchup” in the language you are learning are steps towards fluency. 7. Learn it inside out and backwards. If you are learning a list of chemicals, then try saying the list backwards (without looking at your notes!). Spell words back to front to make sure you really know what they look like – just remember to get them the right way around in the exam. 8. Have a good gossip. Discuss your revision topics with a friend in the same class, especially if you will have to write essays in the exam. See what ideas you can glean from each other – it is surprising how differently two people can approach the same questions. 9. Test yourself both ways. Don’t just learn how to recognise French words: practice translating the English into French. Learn how to work out each segment of a formula triangle. 10. Practise, practise, practise. Find some past exam papers and have a go at the questions. There’s nothing like writing an essay on Shakespeare for really getting to know what you don’t yet know ... How to revise for exams Revising for exams is a very complex process, and it differs from one person to another. This is because revising implies learning theory, identifying and filling memory gaps, then relating and putting pieces of information together in order to solve problems. University exams are particularly challenging, due to the amount of theory involved and the complexity of the problems. Although there is no such thing as a perfect learning method that works for everyone, here are a few guidelines you can follow to improve your performances in this field: Understand the problem Read the courses very carefully, but don't try to memorize them, try understanding them. If you want to, you can memorize important things by writing them down on a separate sheet of paper (doing so makes photographic memory link to motion memory) Talking with other students may help you understand different theory elements and problems. To check if you have fully understood a course, try explaining it to another student. Practice past papers Look over previous exams, and try to figure out what are your teacher's requirements. Does he/she emphasize on theory or practical problems? Try determining which pieces of theory can be applied in which type of problems. Build a solving pattern for known types of exercises Only after doing so, try tackling new problems, for which you don't have a solving algorithm. This is where your skill and creativity come into play, but it also depends on how motivated you are and how much you succeeded in learning the theory logically Let's take a course for example. Identify the part/parts from which all the rest derive from and try to figure out why are those things true. Then learn the rest simply by referring to those one or two things you have learned. Next, after solving different types of exercises, solve one similar to the first one again, to see if it's clear how it's done. Do the same for the rest, until you are confident on your skills. One thing is generally true: practice makes perfect! This is especially the case with when looking for best ways to revise for exams.

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