UMASS Blog

Getting to grips with your revision

It’s nearing the end of the second semester, which means final exams are just around the corner. Not only are these my final exams of the year, they will also be the last exams I will ever take. Looking back at my time as a student, the exam period was always a daunting and stressful time. In order to do well, I have had to learn a thing or two about handling exam pressure which I will share with you. I hope that it helps you in your future exams.

1.    Make a schedule: Chances are you will have several exams, and perhaps they will be really close together. Create a plan for all your revision. Look through all your course content and divide up the material and do one module a day. This way you don’t overwhelm yourself.

2.    Study spaces: Everybody has their own preference about where they like to study, but I would highly recommend revising in the library or in one of the study spaces at university to gain optimal focus. Being surrounded by other students who are studying has been a great concentration booster for me. Studying in my own room has always proven to be distracting and unproductive. Try revising in a university study space and see how it feels.

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3.    Copy out lecture notes: When I start revising, my first step is always copying all relevant notes from the lecture in order to be reminded of everything I’ve been taught over the span of the course. I prefer to write it all down rather than reading it, as it helps me pay more attention to the material.

4.    Refer to coursework: If your lecturer has set you any coursework, it’s a great idea to do them all over again as part of revision (or at least read what you did the first time round and the lecturer’s comments). More often than not, coursework questions end up making an appearance on exam papers and they might also help clarify a few points and shine a light on weaker areas that you need to spend more time on.

5.    Eat well and take breaks: Studying non-stop for several hours can be counterproductive. If you don’t take breaks you will drain yourself of all energy and you will hardly pay attention to what you’re doing. Schedule in breaks during your revision and go for a walk to get some fresh air and get your blood pumping. Another thing that will keep your energy up is making sure you’re drinking plenty of water and consuming nutritious food.

6.    Create a routine: Having a routine will keep your mind organised and will keep your thoughts from scattering all over the place in those pivotal few weeks. You should know what time of the day you work best and schedule sessions around those times. Remember to also schedule regular breaks.

7.    Have something to look forward to: Give yourself a reason to wake up in the morning so that revision doesn’t become a miserable and mundane time of day. Is it going to be that iced caramel macchiato on your way to the library? Watching an episode of your favourite show after getting back home? For me, it’s always been getting myself a sweet treat at the end of the day to keep my spirits up.

8.    Don’t stress: I know, this is easier said than done. How can you not stress when it feels like your entire future depends on these exam results? But remember, nothing is worth deteriorating your mental health over. Also, worrying does not help you study better and it certainly won’t change the outcome. So it’s pointless to stress. Going into those exams with a calm mind is what’s going to help you. During exam time, The University of Manchester often organises several study workshops to help your revision process and it’s a good idea to find out if your university offers similar services and take advantage of those.

There you have it, my advice on how to cope with exams and revision. You should remember that every individual is different, so make an effort to come up with a system that suits you, which will often be by trial and error. Most importantly, have faith in yourself.