Keep Calm and Carry On With Revision

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It’s that time of year again. The sun is finally shining, it’s suddenly acceptable to leave the house without a jacket, and the donning of sunglasses is no longer just because of that horrendous hangover. Oh, no. They are now actually being used to protect us from the sun. And with the blissful weather and ever lengthening days comes the realisation that the semester is nearly at a close; final deadlines are being turned in and dissertation pictures flood your Facebook timeline in triumph.

But there is one significant cloud in the sky which threatens to ruin our moods and suspend attempts at tanning: the looming exam diet.

Exam season is a funny period. We are simultaneously willing the time to go faster and slower. There is always at least one exam that you pray will never come, but you know it will be heaven when it is over.

St Andrews, in our two-week period of revision, seems to come alive with students enjoying the weather and lack of classes.

But there is a distinct atmosphere everywhere you go of an imminent return to studies. St Andrews students are extremely hard-working, and this is something we should be proud of.

However, everyone needs a bit of encouragement now and then, so here are some tips on how to best manage the revision period, make sure you do enough studying, and ensure you don’t go mad in the process. Thank me later.

  1. Be Basic for Once

First of all, make sure that you know your stuff, especially the basics. Noting your exam times and locations is important and will help you avoid unnecessary stress.

I know too many people who have gone to what they thought was the right exam location, only to be turned away and arrive late to the actual paper. I would suggest knowing the time and place of your exams better than you know your own name.

Speaking of which, make sure you have your matriculation card or some other form of identification.

  1. Planning, Planning, Planning

Set aside a morning to write out exactly what you need to know to do well in your exams, divide it up into manageable revision topics, and put it into some kind of calendar format.

Not only is this a great form of procrastination from the real task at hand, it is also avital part of revision that ensures your studying has some kind of direction. This way,you don’t find yourself having only looked at the notes for one of your modules. I’m sure we’ve all been there.

Sitting out in the sun is all fun and games until you remember that you know absolutely nothing about medieval Islamic art and the exam is tomorrow. Then the most stressful 24hours of your life ensue, and you emerge a broken human, probably wondering why you didn’t start revising a few days earlier. If you have a plan that you will realistically stick to, this extreme trauma can be avoided.

  1. Be Keen, Have a Routine

Often, the most difficult part of revision is the beginning. The key to overcoming this is to formulate a routine you know you will stick to.

Alice Cato, a second-year maths student, told me that during revision she has the following structure: “I wake up and start studying by 8 am. I then finish at 3pm. This way, I always have my evenings free to do something fun like go for a run or see friends. It makes those two weeks seem less stressful because I know that I am getting the work done but that I can still enjoy myself.”

Whatever routine you have, it is important that you stick to it and get the ball rolling early. As soon as you’re in an efficient yet manageable routine, you will find waking up to revise much easier.

  1. Let’s Go Shopping

One of the only truly enjoyable aspects of revision is the absolutely essential stationery that I heartily recommend you take some time to investigate.

Not only does stationery add a sense of joy and colour to your library desk, it gives off an extremely studious vibe to those surrounding you (an important part of your revision week image).

Furthermore, you shouldn’t feel limited to the traditional methods of revision: there are thousands of apps available to help with revision planning and technique.

One of my favourites is Quizlet, a flashcard app you can use online and on your phone. It is great for providing that much needed variety in a revision routine which threatens fatal boredom

  1. Avoid a Brain Drain

You might already be revising for exams. You may very well be in the library whilst reading this article. That’s great, but keep in mind that avoidance of any downtime at all could have detrimental effects on the quality of your studying and, perhaps more importantly, your mood and mindset.

I am sure we have all heard about the studies that show our brains can only concentrate intensely for short periods of time. This is not an excuse to constantly prance around the library, as you will inevitably bump into someone and chat with them for two hours, but rather to recognise when your brain is switching off.

Jenny Jackson, a second-year geography student, said, “I find it really helpful, when I feel like I absolutely cannot concentrate anymore, to go for a short brisk walk around the outside of the library or even to Sainsbury’s and back.”

These short breaks are crucial. On that note, planning longer breaks with friends for mealtimes is a great way to take your mind off of what you are studying. When you come back to the library or your study area, you will have a refreshed attitude and be ready to take in more information. 

  1. Remember, You’re Allowed to be Social

Try and plan outings with your friends a few times during the revision weeks. In the morning, you could go for a long walk on the Fife Coastal Path. In the evening, you could go to the cinema or grab an ice cream at Jannettas. This way, you not only break up dragging revision periods but also have something to look forward to.

I believe it is essential that we all reward ourselves with something nice at the end of our long days of revision. You could even organise summer plans.

We all need that light at the end of the tunnel, and planning this can be a fun break from studies.

These study tips are but a guide to productive revision. Everyone is different, and everyone approaches the coming two weeks of studying in a different way.

Overall, the key is staying organised, a sure way to avoid unnecessary stress, without ignoring the opportunities of spring in St Andrews.

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