Its exam season. In the run up the the January exams I posted this blog post in which I gave out some exam advice for Geographers, including the best way to remember the authors you’ve revised and advice for the day of the exam. This time however, I thought I would share some of the specifics of revision for Geographers, particularly first years or next years students who may not had many exams yet or experience revising for a degree-level exam, and visual learners like me.
Revising for a degree-level exam is a lot different than at Geography A level. You have to pull together all your revision skills and techniques to remember a variety of theories, opinions, perspectives, authors, and (my least favourite) numbers and dates. Whats more its not always just remembering a list of facts in a logical order, its a lot more about thinking holistically, bringing together the different parts, stated above, and accessing snippets of information you’ve learnt throughout the module, even if the questions seems to focus on one lecture. For example, at the moment I am revising for the module Glacial Worlds, which is about the changing global climate in the past, with a focus on the Quarternary period, the last 2.58 million years. If I’m asked an exam question like ‘How does radiometric dating help to us unpick the nature and causes of global climate change?’, I would need to draw on my knowledge of radiometric dating techniques as well as the proposed theories of climate change given in the first few lectures, referencing studies as evidence to show these techniques have been employed to help us refine our understanding of climate change.
This next part is really important. On today’s campuses across the world Geographers are stereotyped for one thing – colouring. As a result many of us feel a sense of shame and humilation when we pick up a colouring pencil. However this is why you shouldn’t be ashamed to colour. Firstly, as countless teachers have probably told you, using colour in your revision is a great way to remember things and secondly, its fun. When you incorporate that colour into scientifc sketches or diagrams, its even more useful. Sketches are vital to Geography revision, and you get more marks for sketching a system or process in the exam, for example the carbon cycle or a soil profile.
These will mostly be tips for a visual learner, so be aware that other techniques may suit you better if you are a different kind. If you’re a visual learner like me, it helps to draw in your revision to highlight certain points and help you remember them (Exhibit A). It takes a couple minutes out of your revision time and provides way more benefits than it costs, even if just to take a break from intense reading/note-writing.
And if you are a comedian (or you like to think you are) then it helps to make them funny, even if the humor doesn’t directly relate to the the point (Exhibit B).
Plus its a good way to break up the monotony of writing in your revision notes, and remember the specific pages in your mind.
Lastly, for both human and physical Geography, I would definitely advise doing this. In the few days before your exam, sketch a map of the outlines of the continents, and sketch in the boundaries for the countries in your case studies. Colour the countries different colours, and label on the dates and authors of the case studies that the country relates to. If there’s room, add a few key points about the case studies to remind you of what the topic of the case study is (Exhibit C and D)
So that’s why you shouldn’t be ashamed to colour! I hope these tips prove useful in some way, and good luck in your exams!