In a previous blog I talked about my exam technique. This time I am going to talk about my revision technique. However, I must note everyone revises in different ways so try out different ways of revising and see what best suits you.
When to start?
First as I discussed in my blog about Quantum Mechanics you need to spend time making sure you understand the the topic you are revising by slowly going through the text, lecture slides and your notes. This is why you should start your revision early. How early? The earlier the better, but at uni I have realised (for those who study physics anyway) towards the end of a semester you’ll have a two week period before the end of term where you have pretty much no lectures (this will be just before Christmas break or spring break). I would recommend starting proper revision then. For example I started my revision for the exams I am currently doing at the beginning of December. I tend to start revision for my summer exams earlier because I have more exams in the summer.
When and for how long you have breaks differs a lot from person to person. Many people are quite routine and organise regular breaks in their revision. I am quite different I simply take breaks whenever I want. Sometimes I’ll take several short breaks in small amount of time, other times I might get quite deep into some revision and take much fewer breaks, and some days I might just take a day off because I want a break. My advice would be: just be sensible. Don’t over work yourself, but also make sure you are keeping on top of you revision.
I work reasonably long hours when I revise, so part way through the weeks I have set aside for revision I organise a roughly week long break. Over the Christmas break I went home for 10 days, during which I made sure I did not even think about exams, and instead spent time with my family and friends. Getting the correct balance of revision and free time is important for your mental health, so anytime you are getting over stressed take a break.
But how do I actually revise?
Again this is very much down to personal preference, so they best I can do is tell you how I revise. After spending time making sure that I, at least conceptually, understand the content, I start doing practice papers. By doing practice papers you can find out what bits you don’t fully understand and what you need to go back over. But maybe after looking back over the lecture slides and your textbook you still don’t get it. What do you do now? Lots of people, I find, seem just to accept that they don’t understand it. Don’t do this. First ask your friends or people online, they may be able to explain it to you. If you are still lost, send your lecturer an email. I have done this many times. Sometimes your problem can be simply explained in an email, other times they will invite you to come by their office so they can help you. Normally, at this point you will have been able to sort out what you were stuck on, but not always.
In some cases you will go ask for some help from your lecturer on something you are stuck on. They will spend some time trying to help you. Then they will ask “Does that make sense?”. Now what I’m about to say may seem like pointless advice, but I have seen many people do the opposite. If you still don’t understand say “No.”. You may think if you say ‘no’ they might think you are stupid, but if anything they will think they didn’t explain it very well. Don’t just accept that you don’t understand something, instead try your very hardest to understand everything.
In the future I may make a part 2 to this, where I will try to answer other revision questions such as: How can I remember all those equations? and How do I know my answers to my past papers are right? If you have any questions leave them in the comments below.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”