Thursday, 2 June 2016

Study Tips and Revision Techniques

As exam season is in full swing I thought it would be a good time to share a few of my study tips with you. I am currently sitting my A2 exams and I do French, Spanish and Business Studies and I use a wide range of revision techniques when I study. One reason I do this is because I get bored doing things the same way all the time but another reason is because I'm a visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learner, which means I learn by looking at things, listening to things and doing things. Some people are solely one type of learner, and some may be a cross between two or three. I feel that it's really important to know what type of learner you are because then you can tailor your revision techniques to suit this and, therefore, study more effectively. There are lots of quizzes you can take online to find out what type of learner you are, such as this one. However, there is so much more to studying than actually just sitting studying so I'll take you through everything :)

1. Get Organised!

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to get yourself organised. The easiest way I find to stay organised is by filing my notes away. I have a separate file for each subject and section it off into different topics or units. When you are revising a topic, take all the notes you have for that topic out and file them away again as soon as you're finished. This way you won't lose your notes and it'll save time when you're studying as you won't be running around like a headless chicken looking for your notes. I also find that when I'm organised and my desk is neat and tidy I can focus a lot better.

2. Make a Study Timetable

Making a study timetable is a really good way to organise your time and get yourself into a study routine. You should account for the time you have class, extracurricular activities, meal times, when you go to bed and, of course, break times. I find them really useful because I very much like structure and I find they make me work more efficiently. There are lots of websites online that can help you construct a study timetable - I use GetRevising

3. Study!

As I said earlier, it's important to know what type of learner you are so you can tailor your revision techniques to be more effective. Here are some techniques for each of the different types of learners:

  • Use colour - For Business Studies, I love making colourful notes! For example, for plans for evaluation questions I colour-code corresponding points so I know they are connected. I find this really useful and easier to revise from than just black and white writing in a big list on a page. Colour just makes it all more interesting in my opinion.

  • Make mindmaps - Mindmaps are amazing. They're a great way to condense large amounts of information into the important points you need. Plus, I find drawing them out quite fun, which makes the note-writing process a lot more bearable!

  • Write out flashcards - Flashcards are a great way for learning definitions and they're so handy due to their size! They are also numerous flashcard apps like Quizlet, which are really handy if, for example, you travel a lot to and from school or uni because you can use that time on the bus or train or whatever to study without people even realising! I know it sounds quite sad but it's really good time management!

  • Make up rhymes, raps and mnemonics - These are really useful for if you have to learn facts or lists of things as they are effective and easy way to help you remember them.
  • Record yourself and listen back - I know most people hate listening to themselves speaking but if you are an auditory learner, you'd be surprised at how effective this method is! It's particularly useful if you are revising for a speaking exam for languages as you can really hear and improve on your intonation and pronunciation.
  • Read your notes aloud - Reading your notes aloud and repeating key points over are good ways to make your notes stick in your head pretty quickly.
  • Combine an activity with studying - For me, I walk while I study which is good because I'm being active but still revising. You can go on a treadmill or even go out for a walk somewhere and listen to recordings of your notes. Since I read my notes aloud I stick to my study room or the garden as I may look like a bit of a crazy person if I'm walking through a park reciting the meaning of different business objectives to myself!
  • Use flashcards - These are a great study tool for kinaesthetic learners also. There’s something about the act of writing out the flashcards and the act of physically flipping them over that makes it easier to fully take in the information.
  • Take frequent breaks - Kinaesthetic learners tend to have a shorter attention span that auditory or visual learners as they often have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time. I find it best working in 35 minute sessions with a 5-10 minute break in between. This way, it gives your mind a chance to renew itself and refocus when you sit down to study again. I like to go outside and sit in the garden for a bit to get some fresh air (unless it's raining, of course!)

4. Take breaks, give yourself time to relax and treat yourself

It is impossible for anyone to sit and study for 6 hours straight everyday! You just can't concentrate for that length of time and if you try, it's likely to be more damaging than effective as you will find yourself to be wasting a lot of time. Believe me, I've tried! Therefore, it is essential that you give yourself short breaks between each study session to give your brain a chance to process what you have covered in that session and to get itself refreshed for the next session. 

Similarly, you can't study all night. There needs to be a point where you stop and put all your notes and books away and relax for the night. I revise better at night but I normally finish studying at 9/9:30 and get a cup of tea and treat myself to a chocolate bar and watch a bit of Netflix before going to bed. I find that this destresses me and allows me to sleep better and, of course, sleep is so important while you're studying and doing exams.

5. Keep everything in perspective

To finish, I just want to say that although exams can be important and today there is a lot of pressure on young people to perform well in exams, they are not the be all and end all. It is nearly always possible to repeat exams and there are always alternative options available. I do believe that everything happens for a reason so maybe the alternative may end up turning out better! Just remember to keep exams in perspective and give yourself a pat on the back for how hard you have been working and in the exam just do your best because that is all that anyone can ask of you :)

Good luck!

- Caoimhe x

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