That time of year is upon us once again, the time when people start using that word. Revision. The one word that strikes fear in the hearts of all, a fear that does not discriminate against age, gender, race or academic aptitude. However, having done at least one exam every year for the past seven, Revision and I have formed a strong bond. In fact, I might even say I’m getting used to the pre-exam preparatory stages. Might.

My biggest tip to those of you who haven’t done an exam in a while would be this: variety is key. I honestly believe that if you stick to one method of revision you will not do yourself justice. There must be some sort of scientific explanation for this, but all my evidence is anecdotal.

Now, while having a break from my ECA efforts, I’m going to share what I do to revise- some of it may seem pretty obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective!

1. Reread/watch the course materials: This is an important first step as it allows you to refamiliarise yourself with what you’ve learnt over the past year, but by no means is this sufficient as a standalone revision technique.

2. Summary notes: This is one of my favourites for a number of reasons. Firstly, by condensing all your study materials onto a few sheets of A4 everything starts to feel much less intimidating. Secondly, your revision blueprint is now travel size, you can take it to work with you without giving yourself a hernia. And thirdly, by doing this you will get yourself used to writing things by hand- if you are used to doing everything electronically you WILL need to warm up before an exam. What better way?

3. Flashcards: I’ve definitely found these useful over the years, and versatile too. I’ve used them when learning French vocab, case studies for Psychology, Physics equations and definitions of key terms. This year I’m planning on using them to memorize quotes and themes from the set texts.

4. Wallpaper: My A3 notebook and colourful felt tips will see daylight again. By writing things big, colour coding them, and then taping them to your walls, you’ll struggle not to commit them to memory. I found this particularly useful when studying for my History A-Level. I think this year I might approach thing thematically, and have a different sheet for each theme I could be asked about.

5. Practise essays: At the very least, practice essay plans. This one will be a challenge this time around, as A230 is a brand new course (ergo, no past papers).

6. Collaboration: Some people just cannot revise with others, but I’m not one of them. I find it so helpful having someone to bounce ideas off, and I always seem to remember more information if someone else is testing me (which then minimizes the panic I may be starting the feel). Unfortunately due to the nature of the OU, I don’t really have the option of charming class mates into studying with me.

And then (just because I can) there are a couple of new techniques I’m going to try out for 2012 exams:

7. Tables: These have been working really well for me when writing ‘compare and contrast’ essays, so they will no doubt be useful for exam questions that involve two texts (and there just so happens to be two of those in my upcoming exam…)

 8. Spider diagrams: This is a little challenge I’m setting for myself because I hate spider diagrams. I always have. They just make no sense. And they’re messy. BUT as everyone is always raving about them, I thought I’d give them a bash.

So, loyal readers, how about you? How do you revise?


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