It's Christmas! But don't you forget about those exams!
By Sandip Kana
With less than a month until Christmas you could easily find yourself caught up in the festivities... and I don't blame you! There's plenty for you to do this winter from ice skating outside the National History Museum or a visit to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. But at the back of your mind, we both know that those January mid-term exams are not coming anywhere. It can be difficult to balance revision with enjoying yourself, especially at this time of year, when all you want to do is have fun with your friends and family. But there's a few simple things you can do to ensure that you make the most of this Christmas and still get your head down to some serious studying.
The Importance of Planning
It's something you've heard no doubt through out your school years, and you'll hear it again and again from your lecturers in the coming weeks. It's simply one of the most helpful tools to allow you to navigate through the busy exam season. A plan is a simple tool which allows you to set out the days you'll study and the days you'll take off to do 'Christmassy' things.
"The only drawback of a plan is you have to have the mentality to stick to it."
I've also found that a plan also makes studying for exams a little less stressful since you manage your time and control how much of it you spend on certain modules. For instance, I tend to plan more time on those modules I struggle with and less on those I was more confident with. The only drawback of a plan is you have to have the mentality to stick to it.
With all the stress of exams you might forget that it's actually almost Christmas- well unlikely but it could happen. If there's one thing I've learnt over the years is that a break, a time to rejuvenate and relax, is equally, if more more important than studying itself.
With Christmas around the corner you can make a few excuses about now having things to keep you occupied and away from the books! Also getting away from the library, lab or your place of study, for a few days or even a few hours, will help you concentrate more since you won't feel overworked.
A helping hand
When it comes to studying for exams given the great diversity of subjects being studied at university there are numerous revision methods which could come in a bit handy! Firstly, know and understand the exam - how many questions are being asked? What's the weighting of the exam in relation to the module? Is it open-book or closed-book? Understanding the structure of your exam should be your initial revision step and will ultimately give you a little advantage.
"Past exam papers will not only test your ability to apply what you've learnt, but also allow you to monitor your progress."
After that I would begin breaking down the exam paper into sections; for instance, as a history student, I did this by separating the module into time periods or themes. But for instance, if you're a physics student, you might break it down by formulas you need to learn and then their application to real life situations. The most important step in your revision is utilising past exam papers. Past exam parers can easily located on your student university network (at Queen Mary check QM+) or email your professor to find out the location. Past exam papers will not only test your ability to apply what you've learnt, but also allow you to monitor your progress.
Find your technique
When it comes to revision, everyone has their own way of doing it. For me, the process involved note taking, mind-maps, planning and answering past exam questions. There are many ways to revise and finding the right technique that works for you will make studying for your January exams easier and efficient. There are three types of learners ;
1. Visual Learners who use charts, pictures and colours
2. Auditory Learners who prefer to retain information through hearing and speaking
3. Kinaesthetic Learners who prefer a more hands-on approach. (they would prefer to demonstrate how something works rather than verbally explain it.)
One thing to bear in mind is that you might not fall into one of these categories but a mixture of them. For instance, I like to use mind maps and colour initially and demonstrate this new knowledge by explaining the concepts aloud either to flatmates or course friends at university. Think of them more like guidelines, or helpful tips.
"If there's one thing to take away from this, it would be that revision should not be a chore"
If there's one thing to take away from this, it would be that revision should not be a chore; by adapting a technique that suits your requirements you'll sail through the turbulent weeks to come. And don't forget the best stress reliever is simply to take a break, and with Christmas around the corner I'm sure you'll find plenty to keep you entertained.
I wish you the best of luck with all your exams and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Got any words of wisdom when it comes to studying for exams? Why not get in touch via social media and share your study tips?