Features | Making the most of your revision time

With exam season well and truly upon us it seems that everyone has their own opinion on how to formulate the most air-tight revision strategy. Some make use of the 24 hour opening times at the Edward Boyle library, others prefer to study at home or with friends. Wherever you find yourself revising, it’s not about where you do it but how you do it. Michelle Heinrich takes a look at the best techniques that will you get those high exam grades you deserve.


Contrary to what most people may believe, reading textbooks on your subject or going over your old notes is nothing more than reading, it’s not revising.  Neither is summarising texts or highlighting every other word in your course booklet. If you really want to retain the information you are studying you have to do it actively, not passively – which is what reading in fact is.

But what is active learning? Active learning is all about getting your brain to actually think about what you are studying. One of the best ways to do so is by answering past papers. You might not feel comfortable at giving it a go just yet, however, it will force you to recall the things you know already but it will also highlight the areas where you still have to fill gaps. It also helps by making you structure the information and make connections that you may not have thought of previously. Another way to achieve similar results are quizzes and practice tests. You can look online or get a friend who is studying the same module to test you and vice versa with your own tests.

If you have more than a couple of days left until your exams, alternatively, you could create your own flashcards. They don’t have to be paper cards and there are lots of online sites where you can create your own sets of flashcards or use sets from other people. Examples of such services are Memrise, Quizlet or Anki, all of which are also available as smartphone apps allowing you to revise on the go.

The key to memorising information long term is to keep recalling information over a period of time with rest intervals in between. Apart from spaced repetition, you should also break down your revision into smaller, more manageable bits and study several times a week rather than cramming your revision into a single day. To keep you motivated throughout your revision time reward yourself with treats and take care of yourself. Eat healthy, go out for a walk and set aside some time to socialise with your friends.

But it is not solely about the act of studying itself that is important for good revision practice. It’s also about the time that your brain needs to store the information in your long-term memory. This happens mainly during your sleep, so it’s hugely important to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern during the exam period. So get started with your revision and good luck to you all.


Michelle Heinrich

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