Which revisions strategies are best for uni exams?
This is the first of two chapters about Exam Revision. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Review the concept of revising for university exams
– Introduce six revisions strategies to guide students
– Provide worksheets to check progress and understanding
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video and audio texts
knowledge checks and quizzes
skills practices, tasks and assignments
University examinations are a stressful experience for most students. Exams tend to come all at once, and there are often multiple exams to study for at the same time. While everyone knows they must revise, revising in the most effective ways isn’t always obvious to undergraduates. This short reader about exam revision is therefore intended to outline to students the six most helpful revision strategies (Chapter 1) and twelve most useful tips for exam success (Chapter 2).
Strategy 1: Create a learning environment
One of the most important aspects of an effective revision schedule is to make sure that the environment you are revising in is conducive to learning, memorisation and progress. This can be tricky for students who are living in a noisy dormitory or who are generally unable to find a peaceful and comfortable place to prepare for examinations.
In truth, the right learning environment is very much dependent on the preferences of the student. Some people prefer to be alone, while others prefer a crowded coffee shop. Common advice, however, is to choose a productive time of day, to find a comfortable space, to turn your phone off (and any other distractions such as wi-fi) and to consider varying your study environment. While some people cannot revise with music, those that can generally find that instrumental music without lyrics works best.
Strategy 2: Make study schedules
Once an appropriate learning environment has been found, students should then consider scheduling their time, dividing it into study and break periods. Generally, forty minutes of study followed by a twenty minute break tends to works best, and allows the brain to better process and memorise information. Whatever schedule you decide, start revising as many days before the exam as possible. Divide your schedule into the various subjects and exams you are taking, add additional details such as when you plan to exercise or meet up with friends, and then be strict about sticking to that schedule.
Strategy 3: Be an active student
With a schedule in hand, you’ll be ready to start revising. At this stage, you should consider your learning style, determining whether visual, audial or practice-based memory aids are most useful in helping you to memorise and understand information. When revising, remember also to be critical of what you revise, focusing on those topics and concepts that you are least confident with the most. And be active too. Don’t passively read the same text over and over, but rewrite that information, ask questions, and form opinions about it. A student who actively engages with their revision materials stands a much better chance of recounting that information under pressure.
Strategy 4: Complete mock exams
Next, as a form of hands-on, practical revision, some students may wish to find and complete as many similar past exams as they can in order to get used to the style and types of questions that they may be confronted with in the exam hall. Students could also form study groups, creating quizzes for each other about the material being tested and making new mock exams for other group members to try and complete. Creating those quizzes and mock exams will no doubt help you better learn that information too.
Strategy 5: Use visual memory aids
In addition to practical memory aids, many students agree that visual aids such as flashcards, diagrams, notes and mind maps can also be very useful tools for memorisation. By paraphrasing information and formulating it into visual displays, students are forced to engage with that information in a variety of ways, therefore assisting comprehension and memorisation.
Strategy 6: Use audial memory aids
Finally, some students may also wish to try using auditory memory aids to help them remember key information before a final exam. This might include saying the information out loud – perhaps in front of a mirror or by explaining that information a friend. Alternatively, you could make recordings of the information, playing it repeatedly until you feel that you have sufficiently memorised it. Finally, some students find that creating mnemonics (patterns of letters, ideas or associations), or replacing the lyrics of their favourite song with key information can really help with memorising key information before an exam.
Chapter 1 explores the topic: Which revisions strategies are best for uni exams? Our Chapter 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
Chapter 2 explores the topic: Which 12 tips are best for passing academic exams? Our Chapter 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
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