Revision Myths

The anxiety, the stress, the turning nocturnal in an attempt to cram in as much revision as possible; students need no reminding that the exam period is fast approaching. So with 2 weeks until the beginning of exams, are there any ways you can boost your chances of success?

There are many revisions aids out there, but the one most students turn to during the revision period is music. The link between music and concentration has been the subject of much research, producing contradictory results. Interest in this scientific area was first initiated by a study published in Nature in 1993, claiming that people perform better on spatial tasks after listening to Mozart for 10 minutes, a hypothesis termed the ‘Mozart Effect’. However, research by Nick Perham in 2010 found that what you hear whilst trying to concentrate can actually be a distraction, impairing your ability to memorize and recall information. Don’t panic, the positive effects of music haven’t been ruled out entirely, with the paper going on to conclude that listening to music prior to performing a task does improve task performance. So there you go, a scientific reason to blast Nicki Minaj before revision…

Similarly the beneficial effects of fish on brain function have long been the subject of speculation. Essential fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the human body and so must be obtained through diet. When you eat certain foods, your body uses the omega-3 fatty acids contained within it and uses them to build brain-cell membranes. Common sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout. So yes, fish is brain food. Not sure how much your housemates will enjoy that fact when you’re eating tins of mackerel for weeks on end.

A new craze that has recently been in the press is the use of ‘smart pills’, with the British Medical Association stating that an increasing number of healthy people in the UK are using brain-boosting drugs that should only be taken on prescription. Two examples of these drugs are Ritalin and Modafinil; licensed for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy respectively, and known to boost alertness and mental agility. The long term effects of the illegal use of these drugs is unknown, but if the film ‘Limitless’ is anything to go by I’d leave them well alone.

So, whilst there are many avenues you can go down in an attempt to improve your chances of exam success, none of them negate the need for revision. It would probably be more beneficial to put the iPod and tinned fish down and read over your notes.

Words: Louise White

Image: Flickr

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