Follow these simple tips to help you revise effectively and get through your exams with the mark you deserve:
- DON’T CRAM: Don’t be tempted to cram, spending hours on end pouring over your books. Take lots of breaks and pace yourself. Avoid revising right before bed as you’ll find your mind races and you won’t sleep well.
- MIX IT UP: Type a few things out on the PC, write stuff down, and if you’ve got access to an ipod/mp3 player, why not record yourself reading bits that you need to remember and listen to these when you’re out and about? As well as helping you retain more, this helps keep your revision interesting.
- BE AN EXPERT: Try writing up what you need to remember in different words and make it into a web page – with bullet points, helpful tips and notes (get a free blog on blog.com if you don’t have one). Not only will it help you remember but it’ll help other students looking for revision material too.
- GET SILLY: if you’ve got a lot of info to remember, firstly filter it down to the stuff you definitely don’t know – then use short silly stories to remember collections of linked facts. The sillier the story, the better it will stay in your memory. You’ll also find that writing stuff down on post-it notes and sticking them to places you see all the time (like mirrors, the fridge, the door…) helps too.
- BE PREPARED: Take pens you find it comfortable to write with. Gel pens are much easier than biros if you’re writing for a long time – take spares!
- RESIST THE MUNCHIES: Avoid taking a load of sweets into the exam. Just eat a healthy breakfast with slow release energy foods like oaty bars and bananas. Sugar can make your brain all fuzzy and you can get ‘sugar crashes’ – you could end up asleep on your paper!
- PAY ATTENTION: When you get in to the exam and it starts, read the question carefully – so many students lose marks/time for not understanding what is being asked of them.
- SPEAK UP: Don’t worry about speaking up if something is bothering you – it’s too cold, too noisy etc. Just raise your hand and let the supervisor know. These are your exams and you have a right to sit them in reasonable exam conditions.
- PACE YOURSELF: Generally, if there are four questions worth 25 marks each, allow a quarter of the exam time for each question. If, however, you don’t know the answer to one of the four, you might be better off spending more time on the three you’re confident about and a bit less time guessing on the final question.
- Do go through the paper and answer the questions you’re confident about first, just in case you run out of time.
- SPELL IT OUT: Make sure you answer the questions set for you – don’t assert various facts and leave the examiner to guess your conclusion, spell it out as if the examiner is stupid. If there are two parts to a question ensure you answer both.
- USE WHAT’S THERE: Make sure you use information given in the question – generally, most things mentioned will be relevant and act as clues to the answer that they are looking for. Use tables and graphs if given to back up your answer and always give the correct units in an answer to a calculation.
- LABEL: Always label diagrams with as much detail as you can. When drawing graphs always label the axes with their name and the units you are using e.g. Time (seconds). Again, spell out the obvious. Draw diagrams in pencil as you may need to make changes later.
- TAKE CARE: If you have time, check over your spelling, punctuation and grammar carefully as there may be extra marks awarded for this. Read back through your answers if you can, to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
- SHARE YOUR LOGIC: When doing calculations show your workings clearly – even if you don’t get the final answer right, you’ll often pick up extra marks whether in Maths or another subject.
- LAST MINUTE RUSH: If you do get to the last ten minutes or so and have loads to go, quickly skim through and find any questions you can answer easily, and make sure you complete those. A tip – in a 25 mark question, the first 10 marks or so are often really easy to gain by spelling out the basics – it’s the next 15 or so that take all the work.