Few people like exam prep, and the workload and anxiety that come with revising for undergraduate and postgraduate exams can be tough to handle. Try some of the following tips to help ease your revision stress.
Schedule your revision: mix it up and take breaks!
Your brain will process information most efficiently if you schedule regular study sessions with breaks in between. This is easy if you’re working in a subject area (like business or management) that can be split easily into distinct topics, but it’s equally important for subjects where you might have to do the chunking yourself, like history or philosophy.Alternate between reading- and writing-based study sessions, and don’t spend more than a couple of hours in one go on any of your modules.
Start in good time!
You’ll retain more information if you start revising for each topic a couple of weeks before your exam, and keep refreshing your brain. If you do too much “cramming” the night before an exam, you’ll probably ensure you get a terrible night’s sleep and have a hard time remembering anything the next day.
Revise actively, not passively!
Passive revision (reading textbooks and reviewing notes) is a necessary part of revising, but you’re more likely to retain information if you engage inactive forms of revision. Try some or all of the following:
- Summarise the key points of a textbook chapter or module section using bulleted notes. Then return to your reading and see if you missed anything important.
- Try a past exam question and see if you can put the reading you’ve just done into practice.
- Study with a classmate and ask each other questions on the material. Afterwards, discuss areas of strength and weakness.
Use past papers to your advantage!
Your university (or student union) may offer a repository of exam papers for undergraduate modules. These don’t just help you to test your knowledge but can give you valuable pointers on how you’ll need to present it in the exam. Pay particular attention to the format of exams – for sociology or humanities subjects such as English literature you may be asked a mix of short-answer questions and essay questions. If the essay questions tend to be broad and invite you to pick your own examples you may be able to prepare some go-to essay answers in advance of the exam! Look for patterns in the formats of questions in past exams for subjects like mathematics: make sure you can answer all recurring question types.
Know when (and where) to ask for help!
Exam revision can be overwhelming, and it can be particularly difficult to organise your thoughts and put together structured revision notes if English is not your first language. Don’t worry – help is available!
- Your university or student union may offer workshops for developing your revision skills – attend as many of these as you can. There will also be counselling services available on campus if you find yourself stressed out by exams.
- Use your friends! Classmates can be a great resource for helping you to test your knowledge, and can help make revision fun rather than stressful.
- Research services companies such as Ivory Research offer bespoke revision notes and planning services, helping to take the stress out of your revision!