Thursday June 11th 2020

Two exam preparation and active revision workshops were held online on Thursday, 04 June and 11 June by Hilary Dolan from Academic Skills. Here is a summary of the main tips that were provided during these sessions:

Reflect on your progress

This time of the year is an extremely busy time of the semester but stopping to think about how you will plan out your revision will help you to make the most out of your time.

Asking reflective questions of yourself can help you to become more aware of your current understanding and become more conscious of how you learn, including your strengths and weakness; then, you can take action!

Once you get an understanding of how you are going, you can create an effective revision plan.

Here are some prompts to help you get started:

  • Think about a time when you felt successful in your studies.
  • Which study strategies worked well for you?
  • Once you’ve noted down some strategies, try and identify which study strategies might be helpful this semester?
  • Have a read through previous feedback you’ve received over the semester and try to apply it to your remaining assessment tasks.

Manage your time well

To make the most out of this revision period, it’s essential that you manage your time well.

Make sure you note down key exam information, including when your exams start and finish. Our semester planner should be of assistance to you here.

Break down large assessment tasks into manageable chunks using an assignment planner. This planner is also great for building motivation, as you can tick off tasks as you complete them.

Use our revision planner to space out your study rather than trying to cram at the last minute.

Engaging in Frequent Regular Intervals of Study (FRILS), 1-2hrs of high-quality study, is more effective than sitting at your desk studying for hours on end.  You can break these short intervals up further into a series of 25-minute sessions followed by a 5-minute break. This is known as the Pomodoro technique.

Although it’s tempting to use your phone during this break, make sure to get away from your screen and give yourself a proper break.

Engage in deep learning

Instead of rereading or highlighting your notes, try to test and check your understanding.

The key to deep learning is to create more output than input. Aim to transform the content you are engaging with; for example, create summaries of your lectures

Try to match the study strategy to the material being learned; for example, use flashcards for memorising definitions and examples; draw flowcharts to remember steps in a process.

Have a read of the studying effectively webpage to study smarter not harder!

Test yourself frequently

Exams not only test your knowledge of content, they test your long-term memory.

Even if you have access to your notes and other helpful materials during the exam, you will still need to have a firm grasp of the content to allow yourself to move onto higher order thinking skills such as applying, analysing and evaluating.

Rather than repeated reading, testing yourself is a more effective study technique.

Train your brain to retrieve knowledge using repeated testing and self-checking, this will lead to meaningful, long term learning:

  • When you start a study session, try to recall as much as you can before you look at your notes. Afterwards, pay attention to any gaps in your knowledge.
  • Test yourself to recall an answer at least three times in each study session. Cornell notetaking is a useful note-taking method to use for study purposes.
  • While studying, ask yourself: What are the main ideas here? Why does…. happen? Why is …. Important to know? How is…. similar or different? How does …. work?
  • Try to make visual and written connections about a topic while studying; for example, you could use diagrams to help you recall key terminology or create concept maps to help you understand the big picture.

Fine-tune your academic and research skills

Perhaps you need to improve your analysis and interpretation in your writing? Want to learn more about how to prepare for open-book or take-home exams? Maybe you need to remind yourself of how to format certain sources?

Here are some resources to get started:

Maintain your motivation

Students sometimes struggle with their motivation at this time of the year. If this is your experience, having an action plan can help you to become unstuck.

Doing a brief meditation session before you start to study can help to clear your mind and help you to focus on your study goals. Apps such as Smiling Mind, Headspace and Stop, Breathe and Think have lots of short meditations. The Counselling and Psychological Service also offer an extensive range of mindfulness resources.

Engaging in regular exercise, eating healthily and maintaining adequate amounts of sleep are great ways to maintain a healthy body. Another benefit of making these healthy choices is setting yourself up with a strong foundation to make the most out of your studies.

If your thoughts and feelings are distracting you from your studies, you can seek support from the Counselling and Psychological Services at the university.