Just as athletes cannot expect to perform at their best without putting in the necessary hours of training, students can’t expect to get top marks without serious exam preparation.
Unfortunately, many students do expect just this, putting limited effort into revising, and expecting to make up for it by cramming the night before a test. At the other end of the scale, some students put so much pressure on themselves in the lead up to exams they suffer burnout.
These tips will help students achieve the right balance when it comes to exam revision.
The brain needs time to process and store information, so leaving revision until right before an exam can do more harm than good. Revision should ideally start soon after lessons begin.
It’s helpful for students to develop a study timetable at the start of each term. Summarising class notes during revision sessions is an excellent way to review what’s been learnt. Reading over these notes regularly is much more effective for retaining knowledge than last-minute cramming.
While summarising and reviewing notes is an important part of revision, it’s equally important for students to practice what they’ve learnt. This means that students should regularly be writing practice essays and completing past test papers as part of their revision.
This strategy is called ‘depth of processing’ and it’s one of the best ways to ensure that students can remember and apply what they’ve learnt. Reading over notes alone will not equip them with the skills needed to succeed.
The brain loves stimulation and variety, so it makes sense to use a range of revision practices when studying for exams.
Students can make use of flash cards, mind maps and other visual aids to help them remember concepts and formulas. This is especially useful for visual learners.
Auditory learners may prefer to listen to a recording of their notes, while verbal learners will get a lot out of study group discussions. Researchers have found that explaining concepts to others is a highly effective way to learn because it forces the ‘teacher’ to organise and clarify their knowledge.
No matter which learning style a student prefers, they can all benefit from a mixture of these strategies.
Overloading before an exam is almost as detrimental as doing no revision at all. Even students who are well-prepared often make the mistake of cramming at the last minute in the belief that this will improve their marks.
On the contrary, it’s been found that those who take a break from study the night before an exam perform better.
Not only should students relax the night before a test, but taking regular breaks while studying has also been shown to boost learning.
Research has found that students who rest after learning a new concept have better recall a week later. This reinforces how important it is for students to relax and have some fun when revising.
Students who follow these revision tips will reap the rewards.