It might feel like you’ve only just settled back into your student lifestyle or recovered from Freshers’ Week, but exams are already around the corner. Getting into a studying routine sooner rather than later is key to achieving the results you desire. Find some advice for optimising your revision time below.
Making the most of lectures
Harnessing the full potential of all your contact time is key to performing well at university. It’s crucial that you turn up to lectures and seminars on time, alert and prepared to learn.
If your classes are recorded, it’s a good idea to simply sit and listen while you’re in the lecture hall. Note-taking can be distracting, so it’s best to absorb as much information as you can on the first sitting, taking the opportunity to pause and take notes during consequent video viewings.
After listening through the lecture once or twice, you will be prepared to take effective notes. If your professor used a presentation, it may be most helpful to annotate a printout or add comments to a PDF. Otherwise, use a program like Microsoft OneNote or a notepad and pens.
When going through recordings, pause at each section so you have time to gather your thoughts and write without interrupting the next part. Note the information however you will digest it most easily – whether in bullet point, paragraph or mind map form – and colour-code with highlighters if helpful.
Organising your notes
Your lectures have been structured to support your learning, so it makes sense to organise your revision in a similar way. Group together notes and resources from each class and organise them in a file. Use index flags to mark textbook chapters that are relevant to each section.
You’re likely to get stuck in a rut if you only pore over your notes. A varied revision strategy is the best way to stay motivated and support learning. Re-complete seminar work and attempt past exams, use flash cards to test yourself on key concepts, find new videos and books where ideas are explained in novel ways, and have discussions within study groups.
Give it a rest
Spending every waking hour worrying about revision can do more harm than good, so you need to schedule in some rest. Getting a good night’s sleep – eight hours is a good target – is proven to assist learning by helping consolidate memories in the brain, so don’t be tempted to pull all-nighters at the library.
Taking regular breaks during studying is also crucial, as it helps you maintain focus. After 50 minutes of work, take 10 minutes to relax. To improve productivity, group together all your distractions, such as texting friends and getting a drink, in this dedicated break.
Do you have any other tips for students with upcoming exams? Share your advice in the comments below!