Revision: Beat the Mind Block

February 15, 2017

With half the academic year gone and the end of year exams drawing closer, for many of us, now is the time to begin the long process of revision. To make this a little easier, I am sharing a few tips and tricks on how to make the most of the time remaining whilst minimising the stress.What to revise?

There’s no easy way out, you must revise the entire syllabus. After all, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

When to revise?

In short, as soon as possible. The more time you leave for revision, the more time you have to consolidate your learning and identify your weakest areas. It also makes exam season far less stressful!

How to manage your time?

  • Look at your current schedule and work out when you have lectures, seminars and external commitments.

  • Identify how many hours you can realistically invest in revision that week.

  • Use a calendar, diary or your phone to allocate your time to specific topics. For example Wednesday between 3pm-6pm revise lectures 1-5. By giving yourself a time limit you are setting yourself an attainable goal (and are a lot less likely to procrastinate!)

  • Tackle what you struggle with first. It is easy to focus on the areas you feel comfortable with but this will not help your understanding of the more complex topics.

  • Remember to have a break! Whether it’s a couple of hours of Netflix or not revising past a certain time, in order to perform your best you need time to relax. Nobody likes an overload of information.

How to revise?

Not every method I am about to suggest will suit you and that’s OK, it wouldn’t do for us all to be the same.

Condense your information: It is easy to become overwhelmed when you begin revising and realise you have enough notes to fill a small country. Don’t panic. Go through all of your lectures, tutorial,reading and journal article notes and begin to summarise each case, statute and principle. You will end up with your own mini revision guide.

Pro’s: Going through your notes, it will become apparent what topics you have more difficulty on or have insufficient notes for. Also, having summaries in your own words means that you are more likely to be able to understand and remember them.

Con’s: It is time-consuming and is not ideal for visual learners.

Revision Cards: There are several ways you can do these. You can create your own out of card, buy blank index cards or there are apps available for both Apple and Android specifically for revision cards. On one side put a case name, a statute or principle and on the reverse a brief sentence on its importance.

Pro’s:  They are easy to remember, easier to transport than books and folders and can easily be colour coded.

Con’s: Can be impractical and daunting for certain topics ( I personally found them unsuccessful for topics such as EU law). I wouldn’t advise these to be the starting blocks for your revision because in order to put  a one line summary you must already have an understanding of the point.

Colour Coding: Get your favourite highlighter or gel pen and allocate a colour for statutes and cases. This makes them easily identifiable when looking through your notes. I also advise using a red pen or another colour for any extremely important points.

Pro’s : This method works well for notes and for mind-maps and is very easy to do.

Con’s: To be most effective it should be used with other revision methods. Although it makes the information clear and can help with memorisation, it requires pre-existing  knowledge on the module and doesn’t help with confusion on a topic.

Seminar Questions: Questions will have been provided by your lecturers. Attempt to answer these without the aid of your textbook or notes to get a real gauge on how you are progressing.

Pro’s: These questions give you a vague idea of what could potentially appear as exam questions as well as giving you an insight into what lecturers are expecting in an answer. The materials are already available via Moodle and is one of the least time consuming methods.

Con’s: Bare in mind that not every topic in the syllabus will be covered in tutorial and so additional revision is required. If you are confused on a topic that isn’t covered then feel free to email your tutor or visit your lecturer in their office hours. Details of which are located on the top left hand side of your module page on Moodle.

Buddy up: You may have a friend that is amazing at a module you struggle with and vice-versa. By doing group revision you can benefit from their understanding just as they can from yours.

Pro’s: This method gives you the opportunity to reaffirm your knowledge by teaching somebody else but also provides a low pressure environment where any concerns can be expressed. Furthermore, your friend may generate ideas and points of view that you hadn’t previously considered which can help with answering essay questions in the summer exams.

Con’s: Make sure you revise with somebody who you won’t get distracted with!

Learn from mistakes: When you receive your formative coursework back, lecturers will always provide feedback on how to improve your answer. Don’t be disheartened, it is a valuable opportunity to understand where you have gone wrong.

Pro’s: You receive advice tailored to your own work and usually your lecturers will be more than happy to mark your work having taken on board their advice. You can also identify where you have gone wrong.

Con’s: Re-writing your coursework can be daunting and time consuming. If time is an issue then perhaps consider only writing a detailed plan instead of the entire coursework.

Past Papers: Most lecturers have included some form of past paper or sample answers. I would recommend writing past papers by hand in timed conditions, so you can get used to exam conditions. Try to avoid using your notes as you won’t have access to these in the exams.

Pro’s: This method is particularly useful for those who struggle with timing or who type their notes during lecture. You can begin to estimate how much you can realistically write in an exam. The more practice you get of hand written work the quicker you will be. Sample answers can provide guidance on what work of various grades looks like and often helps you structure your answers.

Con’s: The lecturers may not be able to mark every past paper you do but sample answers may be able to assist you. You do need to be pretty confident on the content before you attempt past papers, they’re of little assistance if you write nothing.

I hope this has helped you on your journey to exam success and wish you all the best of luck!

If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share leave us a comment.


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