Yes exams are not fun and I know it can be very overwhelming when you have to take on more than a few round this time of year. However, as they make up such a large percentage of your overall mark, it’s important to put in that revision time to do the best you can. I’d like to share with you how I've been managing my exam revision since I started at Plymouth University, to make sure that I haven’t been disappointed after seeing my results.
First of all I must say that the biggest obstacle when you're in the examination room is stress (surprise, surprise...). After my first exam I realised I had wasted so much time during the exam stressing, time which I could have used more efficiently if I had been feeling calmer. For instance, I could have used that time to double check over my answers to make sure I had read the questions correctly and that I had not missed any of the questions either! So I would like to share with you a technique that I have used to ease that stress in the exam environment.
As I realised that I needed to familiarise my mind with the feeling of stress, I started to simulate exam conditions at home when doing my exam revision. I worked under a time constraint as if I was in an actual exam, only allowing myself two short breaks during each revision session. I also wrote my mistakes down in a list so after a couple of attempts I started to notice a pattern in what mistakes I made and what caused me to make them. In other words I had engineered my "weak points" out of exam revision. You see, engineering can be applied anywhere! As a result the more I practised the more work I was able to achieve in a shorter period of time. I also felt less stressed when I entered exams after this, as I felt a lot more familiar with the protocol and confident in my exam taking abilities.
I couldn’t agree more with the fact that revision can be very hard when there’s so many distractions around such as the internet, nights out, summer weather… well maybe not much summer weather here in England! But let me assure you that you don't have to lock yourself up in the dungeon with a stack of books to achieve great results.
Distractions can either be eliminated or ignored for periods of time. If you find it difficult to revise at home because of your TV, bed, food or whatever else, go and study somewhere different! The library or other university study areas can be a great place to revise. As these areas often get busy around revision time the University often lists extra rooms that can be used to revise in, so you’re guaranteed to find somewhere quiet without many distractions.
The internet, I find to be one of the biggest distractions during revision, as even if you go somewhere where there’s less distractions your bound to either be on a computer, have your laptop with you or at the least your phone. I know some people avoid taking electronic items with them to revise or deactivate their Facebook profile during exam periods, but as these things aren’t always practical, sometimes you need to set yourself goals. For instance if you tell yourself I’ll revise this subject for 30 minutes and then I’ll have a 10 minute break to watch YouTube videos etc… this can really help. Yes it is basically discipline but discipline with breaks to work towards can help your motivation.
So breaks are not just important for checking your social media but also because “work and no play" is not healthy nor sufficient study-wise as often you can become tired or less focused after some time has passed. Even simple things like going for a stroll outside will make a difference as the fresh air and exercise will help you to get more oxygen into your brain and give you a change of scenery too.
I must say that I’ve actually revised whilst taking a walk outdoors around Plymouth by just listening to either a lecture or recordings I’ve made myself of information I need to remember. Nowadays technological advancements make revising so easy as there are so many apps out there that can help you to revise.
Over the course of several academic years at Plymouth University I have observed that some people can achieve better results whilst revising in groups. If you are a sociable person, my advice to you would be to find determined or strongly committed people and try working through exam revision papers together.
You should also know that there are past exam papers provided by the university for students to use during their exam preparation. These can help you to familiarise yourself with the language used in the questions, the type of questions that may be asked and how much is expected to be included in the answers.
Lastly I want to mention that there are dozens of seminars taking place at Plymouth University regarding revision techniques and stress management tips. I would definitely recommend these for first year students that are struggling with their revision.
Although revision time can be stressful, there is plenty of resources and advice out there that are available to help you with your exam preparation. As long as you are willing to use that help, you will be absolutely fine!