Effective Learning Tips: Exam Revision For School/College Students

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By: Andrew Johnson
Here are some tips which may help you during your revision for exams:
Revision – Approach
*. If you feel it will help you, set a revision timetable, revising certain subjects at certain times.
*. If you feel the need for silence while revising, try to make this possible.
*. If you like to work to music, get some headphones and listen to your favourite album whilst you work. Try to listen to something that is familiar and “one of your favourites” – this will help to put you in a positive frame of mind during your revision – it can also reduce the risk of distraction, under the right circumstances.
*. Make sure you have a break from revision – try to arrange things so that you have a “day off” revising. This will mean when you re-start your revision, you will be a little fresher.
*. Try to revise one section of notes, or one set of topics together.
*. If you have trouble with specific details of topics, at least try to understand the topic generally and try not to get too bogged down with details. If you just choose to “ignore” topics, you may be limiting your options too much when it comes to answering questions – try to gain a broad understanding, as this is often sufficient to answer most or part of a question. (Quite often, details are supplied anyway – you just have to tie them together.)
Revision – Techniques
Try to develop your own technique for revision. Different techniques work for different people and depending on the type of subject being revised, some techniques are more suitable than others. Here are some:-
*. Read and Memorise.
*. Summary notes – short version of main notes.
*. List of keywords for each topic covered, which can act as “triggers” for other ideas.
*. Some kind of diagrammatic representation of notes can be helpful.
*. Revise with a friend or colleague – if possible, exchange ideas during revision – this can be very helpful to both people in understanding topics and building confidence.
*. Questions and Answers – get a friend to ask you specific questions about topics and think up questions to ask your friend. This will test and help to build your own understanding.
*. Make up a set of revision cards – with one main topic per card, each topic listing ideas or information for this topic. You can carry these cards with you and, if you choose, get them out and revise whilst a passenger in a car or on the bus or train, or when queuing somewhere.
*. If possible, ask your teacher or tutor to revise topics you are unsure about and try to get the tutor to help you to fully understand the topic.
Exam Preparation
*. Try not to treat the exam as anything other than a normal school or college day, other than that you are doing an exam. Try to follow your normal routine as this will help you relax.
*. Try to think that at least after the exam, you can relax and won’t have to do any further revision – this will help you relax before the event too.
*. Get a good night’s sleep – do not stay up till “all hours” revising unless you feel this is vital. A final review of topics and a review of your “strong” and “weaker” areas would be best.
*. Take sufficient pens / pencil, rubber ruler etc. Try to use the same pens etc. as you would normally use in class as this too, can be a small psychological booster – just use new pens for “spares”.
*. Take a wristwatch or small traveller’s clock – make sure any alarms / hourly chimes are disabled.
*. Relax!
Before The Exam
*. Make your way slowly to your position and sit yourself comfortably.
*. Make sure you listen very carefully to instructions that are given or any announcements that are made. If anything is unclear, ask questions before you start as this may save you a great deal of time later.
*. Set out your pens / pencils etc. and set up your clock or wristwatch so that you can see it just by looking up and not having to move anything out of the way.
*. Make sure that you have everything necessary – question paper, answer papers, additional sheets etc. Ask the invigilator if something appears to be missing.
The Exam Itself
*. Read all the paper and all the instructions carefully – check that you know exactly how many questions you have to answer and carefully note any constraints such as “Answer 1 question from each section” or “Answer 2 questions from Section A and 1 question from Section B” etc.
*. “Speed Read” the paper to get an idea of what questions are in it but then…
*. Read each question carefully and thoroughly and make sure you understand what it is asking. Read all parts of the question before deciding whether or not to answer it.
*. Try work out how much time you will need to answer each question, but allow some time for reading / checking at the end of the time.
*. Try to write neatly.
*. If you are doing mathematical questions always show your working. Simply stating an answer will not get full marks. If you get a question partially correct, and have shown your working, you may be given some marks.
*. Relax as much as possible and try to think clearly and keep confident.
*. In a given question, concentrate of what you do know rather than what you don’t know.
*. Use what you know to maximum effect, but remember to ANSWER THE QUESTION.
*. Do the questions you feel most confident about first (it rarely matters which order you answer questions in). This will help to build your confidence and you may find yourself remembering more things.
*. Sometimes, intense thought whilst answering a question can facilitate understanding. If you find this happening, try to use it to maximum effect.
*. Keep thinking positive and do the best you can. Just answer as much as you can.
*. If, after reading a question, you genuinely feel it is ambiguous or too broadly based, state this in the first part of your answer and explain briefly your reason for trying to answer a question in a particular way. The examiner will then have a better chance of empathising with your answer.
*. Answer the question.
*. Relax!
About The Author: Andrew Johnson is a science tutor in Borrowash, Derbyshire.

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