Effective Revision Strategies to Help You Score Great Grades
- Nov 11, 2015
It was that time of the year again. Another exam seemed to have popped up from the middle of nowhere and Luke's Industrial Revolution text suddenly loomed like a formidable cavalry conspiring to slay his good night's sleep, and he ended up thinking, “I had studied this; but why can't I remember a thing about it, now?”
Then it hit him. He had started with the chapter two Saturdays back with the intention of completing it. But some portions of it needed further research, which Luke decided to perform on his computer. And he did pull some big fish out of the resources when he remembered exactly what the playlist that he created on Spotify was missing.
“It would take just a minute to update and then I would go right back to Industrial Revolution,” he thought. Unfortunately, not every thought comes true. This one bit the dust as soon as he decided to play that song.
However, Luke did manage some time the next day and finished the chapter with no time to revise. “I don't need it now, I'll push it to the next weekend,” he decided. He had completely forgotten about the football match that he had scheduled for the next weekend. So revision went down the queue. And now with the exam staring him right in the face, Industrial Revolution lay forgotten.
Now Luke will have to pull all-nighters and memorise his way through Industrial Revolution for the scope of a 'B' at least. Even that is a remote possibility. If only he had revised, a little, the results would have been so much better.
Luke has numerous counterparts all over the world. We have all been there and done that. I know I have and I have never forgiven myself for that. Revision is an essential part of studying. No matter how alluring the distractions are, sticking to a good revision plan will get you through every exam with commendable grades.
Revision has a number of hidden benefits that become all the more prominent during exams. Revision is nothing but a simple procedure of reviewing the matter you have already studied. It helps in reinforcing the details of the chapters so that they don't elude you when you need them the most. The more you revise, the more time you give your brain to soak in the matter and identify the portions that require more attention. This way, you can retain more information accurately.
However, the large syllabus leaves us trying to find enough time for studies; leave alone revision. Whatever little time is left for revision never seems enough. And we end up thinking how to make the most of whatever little revision time we have.
We have compiled a list of a few tips that you can employ to make your revision more fruitful. Read on to find out more.
Design a Revision Timetable
The first thing that you need to do to make your revision time work for you is a plan, in other words, a revision timetable. You need to chart out the chapters that need to be revised first. This could be based on any number of factors, ranging from its order in the exam, your proficiency and so on. Now find out the days which you would like to assign for revision. These can be spread out in intervals of a couple of days or can be grouped together as a chunk of a few consecutive days in a month, whichever suits you best. Once you have singled out the days, you need to get to work on the durations. Here, you can use one of the following two strategies:
- 3 – 4 hours of continuous revision with breaks of 3 hours in between
- Half-an-hour spells of revision with 5-minute breaks in between
The breaks that you take help your brain to process the information that you have just reviewed. It also rids your brain of the stress of studies for some time and the breaks allow you to get back to your revision re-energized and ready to take on the next portion. The more frequent the breaks are, the higher will be your concentration level. So, I would recommend you to follow the second strategy to optimize your revision.
Next in line are the subjects. Assign subjects against every studying slot. You can also mention what exactly you need to focus on during revision, as a note. If you are following the second strategy, then your timetable would ideally look like this:
8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Subject A-
-break for 5 minutes-
-8:35 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Subject B-
-break for 5 minutes-
This can continue till lunch on a holiday when you can squeeze in a break of a good 2 hours or so and then start again.
Now that your timetable is set, you will find more time for studies if you stick to it.
- Revise in a Quiet Space
Find a space in your house where peace and quiet prevail. Zero noise would obviously be an ideal situation. However, what you can aim for is minimum sound that doesn't hamper your concentration. Keep in mind that you need to be uninterrupted for the duration of your revision. When I was in college, I used to frequent the library for my revision sessions. The perfect revision place for you can be anywhere you are comfortable in.
Did you know that studying different information in different places is beneficial for retention? For example, if you are studying 'Photosynthesis' in your bedroom, you will automatically relate every detail of it with your room's structure, the positioning of objects, your posture and so on. It might so happen that the large book on the top shelf had decided to fall down with a rumbling sound when you were memorizing the reaction. So your brain will immediately connect the two together and compartmentalize the information. This helps in recalling information quickly.
Some students can concentrate more in a noisy place, for example, in the cafe or in the train through the subway. As long as the revision is actually happening, you are good. No matter where you choose to study, make sure that the noise (no matter how loud or muffled it is) does not wreak havoc with your sessions.
Do you keep checking your phone every 10 minutes while revising? If that is the case, chances are each train of thought you build breaks every 10 minutes and you have to start all over again only to do the same after the next 10 minutes. That is a massive waste of time. With the little amount of time you get for revision, such distractions eating into it will only hamper your studies more. So, you would need to keep a check on these activities to increase productivity.
Here's what you can do:
- Switch off your mobile phone during your revision time.
- If you need to use the Internet for studying, log out of all social media accounts.
- Switch off the television in the next room, or, if that isn't possible, shift somewhere away from it.
Even though that sounds depressing, it is unavoidable. You cannot focus with a stream of social media notifications constantly eating into your revision time. Think of it this way, when you take the next break, you can gorge on those newsfeeds as much as you want. Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it?
Practise Active Revision
Instead of the same old routine of going through something again and again, you can liven up your revision with a few different strategies. Here's what you can do.
- Use flashcards: Flashcards are effective revision tools. They enable you to revisit information quickly and evaluate your knowledge. It is a mode of visual learning that helps in retaining information more by allowing better comprehension.You can create flashcards for the sections that you are having difficulty with to remember. Write out the question on one side and the answer on the back. When you have your bunch of flashcards ready, you can give it to your sister or friend to quiz you on.
- Play the Teacher: If you can explain a matter to someone well, then you know that you have understood it completely. The next time you sit for revision, include some role playing. You are going to be the teacher and you need to find someone to act as your student.Once you explain a concept to someone, you would be able to locate the doubts you never thought existed. This process lays bare the exact amount of knowledge you have about the concept. Also, ask your 'student' to demand explanations for the parts they do not understand. This will help you in laying out the matter in as simple and concise a way as possible.If you can accomplish this, rest assured, you will never forget the information.
- Highlight Your Notes: You can underline or highlight portions of your notes that you think require further reviewing or contain important information. You can also jot down extra details that you have gathered from other resources to back up the information in the notes. This way, you will not have to read through the entire text to locate the parts you are looking for, at a later date.
Doodle or Draw Your Concepts
Visual learners learn best when text accompanies images. In fact, picturizing a concept works well for all types of learners. Figure out a way to associate drawings with the concepts you are revising. You can resort to mind maps, diagrams, images off the Internet etc. – anything that works for you.
Once you break down the information into diagrams and label it, you will be able to visualize it with your eyes closed. Therefore, when you try to recall the concept, you do not have to summon the text from the depths of your memory, all you would need to do is think of the image – the text will immediately come to you.The following video demonstrates how to create mind maps.
Solve Previous Years' Papers
Get your hands on some previous years' question papers from the Internet or a senior or from your teacher. The next step is to solve those in a mock-exam environment. Once you get used to the exam format and ambiance, the actual exam will seem less formidable. Also, it will:
- Help you work on your strategies of time management.
- Familiarize you with the guidelines of the examination.
- Help you identify the sections in which you are lacking.
- Boost your confidence considerably.
Revise in Groups
Revising alone can get a little boring sometimes, which is why you should consider calling up your friends and scheduling dates to study together. Revising in groups has numerous advantages. Some of these are as follow:
- Teamwork solves a lot of difficult questions that would have been impossible to crack all by yourself.
- When you study in a group, numerous questions will pop up from the members that wouldn't have occurred to you had you been studying alone.
- With multiple students studying together, the stress level decreases.
- Group study helps you learn concepts quicker.
Relax a Little
It is okay to push yourself, but not so much that you end up stressed. There's more to your day than just revision. Relax a little, listen to some music, pursue a hobby or do anything that you like. You can also exercise a little to reduce your stress level.
Do not let the stress get to you.
What other revision strategies would you like to add to this list? Share those with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.
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