Everyone knows the standard revision tips. No cramming. No all-nighters. Look after your diet. Watch your caffeine. These are all worthwhile, but there are some less well-known ones out there that can really make a difference. Let’s take a look.
- Your concentration is finite. Don’t pencil yourself in for a 9 hour session with your books. First off, you probably won’t really do it – nobody is superhuman, and the likelihood is you’ll either postpone it completely or spend lots of the 9 hours procrastinating. In the unlikely event that you do manage it, congratulations – but most of the information you learned won’t stick. You can only devote your mind’s resources to something fully for relatively short bursts, and anything beyond that will tend towards a shallow raking over of your revision materials, with little retention. Ever been reading a book and realised for the last page you’ve just been sounding out the words and you’ve got no idea what’s being talked about? Exams and essay writing are like that. Instead, use the pomodoro technique. This technique involves 25 minute bursts of work, followed by a five minute break, which you repeat with occasional longer breaks. This will keep your concentration sharp.
- Make your revision focused. You might be tempted to roam around your topics freely, notes spread out all around you. This is usually not a good idea – it will give you an illusion of false productivity as you’re surrounded by relevant materials, but it will also scatter your thinking. Remember, your concentration is finite. If you use an assignment writing service, they will recommend that you start each study day by writing a sentence or two about what you want to achieve in the revision session. Pick a well-defined area that you can reasonably cover in the time you’ve allotted for yourself, and do it. No more, no less. This will give you a sense of definite achievement at the end of the day, instead of the more nebulous anxiety that comes from touching lightly on lots of areas.
- Go to sleep. This isn’t the usual advice to get enough rest before an exam (although do – really). Instead, I’m advising you to go to sleep after your revision session. Research shows that if you sleep directly after revising, your knowledge of what you’ve covered are much more likely to stick. Memory consolidation takes place during sleep, and this even includes napping. If you’ve had a particularly heavy session of revision, catching some ZZZs might be exactly what you need to get most from your time. The effects of this are particularly acute within a week of learning something – if we rest directly afterwards, we are much more likely to remember it a week later. This is an often overlooked tip – and probably one of the easiest to follow!