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How best to revise for an exam

How to make the most of a revision study sessionBoard exams, entrance tests, competitive exams, class tests NEET, JEE, CAT BITSAT etc., you name it; revision is important for all of them. How do you prepare for these exams? What are the best methods to revise before an exam?

Anxiety tends to set in, among students, as the date of an examination draws near. In the final weeks before the examination, you want to make the most of the available time. And this sets a hectic pace of studying and revising an entire year's syllabus.

A piece of advice that I have always given to students that I have taught, is that cramming is not the best method to learn. Yet, I found that even the finest students, that I had the pleasure of teaching, would hustle, as the examinations drew closer.

If you are one of those students who creates a flurry of activity and applies themselves completely to frenzied study schedules, then here are some study tips that will help you exploit your last-minute cramming efforts.

Have an action plan

Before you begin your last-minute cramming session, make a precise evaluation of the things that you need to achieve and go on to prioritise them. List out answers to the following questions –

  • How many days/weeks do you have before the examination?
  • What are the subjects and the extent of syllabus that you need to revise/study?
  • Where are you most comfortable studying – is it by yourself or with a peer group; would you prefer to study in isolation at the library or at home?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can get down to charting a study plan, prioritising subjects and topics that need the most attention. Doing so lets you set achievable study schedules, without becoming overwhelmed with the situation.

Here is a tip that you can use to make study time better. Before you sit down with the study material, during each session, list out the chapters or topics that you will cover and set a timeframe required for each of those.

Next, divide your study schedule into half-an-hour sessions and focus first on topics that you find the most problematic.

Go through notes

At this point, you will not find enough time to revise the whole syllabus, so do not even attempt it. Instead systematically go over all the notes that you have with you. In the event that you have not got any notes, I would suggest you take the help of commercially available guidebooks or any other secondary source that summarises the lessons and highlights important points.

Next, get hold of the previous year's question papers and try and solve them. This is possible if they are public exams. For school exams, ask the teachers for guidance on important chapters. You can also discuss the lessons with your classmates, to understand which chapters are important.

Make annotations

Make annotations, in the textbooks, as they are crucial, for revision. Make it a practice to jot down important points on the textbook, besides the passages, as you are reading through the chapters. This should be done the first time you read through a lesson. But, do not worry if you have not made any annotations. You can start now, as you are skimming through the lessons. And you can go through them one more time, during the final revision, just before the exam.

Annotations help you mark the key points; so, you just have to read them, to get the gist of the lesson. It does away the need to reread the entire lesson.

Space out repetitions

Avoid memorising the same thing over and over again, especially when you have a huge syllabus to cover. I realise that repetition can help you remember things better. But, it is important to space out the repetitions. Spacing out the repetitions will enhance the learning process. Practice spacing out lessons, instead of bunching them together and going over them repeatedly.

The most effective way of spacing out repetitions is to switch subjects. If you are revising physics, leave that and begin revising biology, and then come back to physics. You will achieve better results if you chunk up the study repetitions in a random sequence.

For instance, if you are revising civics, history and physics; you can start with civics and then interleave physics, then go back to revising civics, then revise history and go back to physics. Keep the pattern fluid, so your brain does not become accustomed to what is coming next. This method of studying will sharpen the mind and boost memory.

Create ideal settings

Have you noticed how emotions, sight, smell and sounds can trigger a memory? This occurs because contextual information can stimulate the brain and revive memory. In short, the environs can help cue memories. It is good to revise in a similar ambience.

Study in a place that allows no distractions. Also, conceptualise whatever you are studying, it helps to remember things better. For example, draw a diagram, whenever possible, it makes it easier to recollect the information.

Get enough rest

I do not advocate staying up the whole night, cramming stuff. And, especially not during the night before an exam. Sleep is very important because your brain needs to be rested, as much as your body.

If you are sleep deprived your memory will be fuzzy. You will not recall things that you had studied the previous night. Lack of sleep will also hamper your capacity to carry out complex mental work. So, staying awake trying to cram stuff in the last minute can, in fact, be counterproductive.

Final advice

  • Ensure that you are well rested before the exam
  • Take power naps in-between study sessions
  • Eat healthy foods – whatever mummy recommends
  • Stay hydrated
  • Do not rely on caffeine to remain awake
  • Shut off all distractions – mobile phones, social networks etc.
  • Concentrate on whatever you are studying
  • Get out of your room and get some fresh air

  • I hope these tips help you study better. Would you like to add your method of revision?

    Article by Juana
    Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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    Author: Umesh22 Aug 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

    Different people have different grasping power and different memory for retaining the things in their mind. Then there is the factor of interest and aptitude. If you understand a thing and like it and can corroborate it with some real-life event or action, it will remain in your mind for a longer period.

    However intelligent a person might be, there is no substitute for repeating or revision when it comes to studies. Systematic revisions are the key to scoring in the exams. More you revise more confident you become.

    I have seen case studies where a particular student with 4 to 5 revisions could score the same as compared to other students who did only 2 to3 revisions. People attribute it to the difference of intelligence between the two.

    Understanding the logic and steps of derivation in various studies is another area where many students are stuck and waste their time and in desperation cram it and go ahead. This is a mistake because whenever you revise it, you will be again stuck at the same point. It is always better to understand the thing and then proceed ahead.

    Studies are like threading a garland. If you skip some flowers in between, your garland will be shabby and will not be complete. Each step in studies is like a building block and if we skip some of them our foundation will remain weak and it will affect our future educational missions.

    Author: Sheo Shankar Jha01 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

    The author has taken enough pain to highlight the points essential for a speedy revision. Of course, revision is an art where nothing is left for the last hour preparation. The notes already prepared for revision purpose has to be looked into with the intent of last minute preparations. This would require incorporation of drawing, relevant formulas to be used for calculation of numerical problems and detailed answers of some of the questions creating confusion to choose the right answer.
    A careful planning of the subject matters relating to IIT, NEET is the foremost perquisites to score grand marks. It means the planning has to be chalked out well in advance.
    Don't allow the stress to spoil your planning. Enough rest too is required in between so as to utilise your peak energy. A revision of the subject matters a number of times prior to the test will enable the aspirant to score high marks.

    Author: Reena Upadhya14 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

    There exists no reason to fear when exams approach. Effective techniques and tips that when employed for the study period help in making revisions simple and quick. First and foremost tip is to find a suitable place where you can sit and study and revise for exams. It may seem as not so important, but still, finding a suitable quiet place that has efficient lighting and is distraction-free will offer comfort to the students. Comfort and peace of mind are the two most important entities essential for students before the exams. Thus, make sure to find a comfortable place to sit and revise.

    Stop stranger talking and stranger stalking. Yes, I am speaking about social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can do it after your exams. Thus, disable your accounts temporarily. It is because if they are enabled, you will go through the pain of logging in and out and in the meantime will lose track of time. The time that you have scheduled for revisions will be wasted in online activities which for the time being are not important at all.

    Study targets should be reasonable. You know your level of concentration and you know your grasping power. You can't afford to keep an unrealistic approach while preparing your revision timetable. It may seem very fascinating in the beginning but at the end, you will end up in disappointments. Instead of facing failures, it is essential to keep everything realistic right from the beginning. Effective organization is the key factor to achieve success during the revision period. The period before exams is referred to as the crucial days. It is important to revise everything that you have studied earlier. It will help in the easy recalling of the subject if asked during exams.

    You need to spend 10-15 minutes every day preparing notes after you finish studying. You can rely on these notes during your exam time that will help you with quick and easy revisions. You don't have to go through the pain of studying all your notes and textbooks just before exams. You can just refer to your handy revision notebooks and revise everything in a matter of few minutes or hours.

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