Monday, 2 November 2015

How to plan your revision (around your life!)

Revision is inherently not meant to be enjoyable. At the same time, we all need to do it at some point or another and we can’t put it off for ever.
With the latest set of case study exams just around the corner for operational, management and strategic case study students, it is currently crunch time when it comes to swotting up on everything you need to know!

Having spoken to many students in the past regarding all levels of exams, as well as during the lead up to these particular ones, I have had a number of questions concerning how best to approach the exam and revision process in general. Although it can be different for every student individually, one common theme I have gathered from listening to these students is that the revision is not the only thing that they have had to think about during the last few weeks.

Many students come from all manner of backgrounds and lead very busy lives away from their studying. Whether it’s juggling a full time job, personal commitments or even in some instances other studies(!), it can be difficult to find time to even plan where to start, let alone start the revision.

I have put together a small list of things to think about below, hopefully offering some form of guidance towards the structure of your own studies, with the latest set of exams in mind.

1) Learn the Content

Hopefully by now this is perhaps the more obvious step along this revision structure guide. However, it is the essential starting place when it comes to any form of revision plan, and requires the most amount of time and effort. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of time will be required to get to know the content, often involving many hours worth of reading.

However, this does not mean that you should spend hours on end ploughing through pages and pages of notes. Why not mix it up a little when it comes to your learning? This could potentially mean changing the amount of time you spend per session.

It is recommended that students complete sessions up to 20 minutes long, with small breaks in between; however, such sessions could be spread out throughout your week, fitting in a little bit every time you get a spare 20 minutes. Very much like an exercise routine, every little bit that you can do at a time, can count up to make a big difference by the end.

You can also “mix it up” by changing the way you receive the information too. As it is the norm, reading has been the most accepted form of learning for years, alongside hours and hours of endless lectures and classes. However, with the resources that we have available to us today, there are so many other ways in which you can develop your knowledge.
Video learning sessions are an excellent way to learn and give you the opportunity to give your eyes a rest, and instead let your ears interpret some of the information for a change. We’ve found that videos are becoming more and more popular among our student base, especially when it comes to preparing for the case study exams, where students are required to learn about a company/industry that they have never heard of before!

This little bit of variety along with the more regular, shorter sessions might enable you to break up the “information overload” that is revision.

2) Test as You Go

As students progress through the study content, they often reach a point where they feel that all of the content has been covered and the next logical step is to go through it again in order to almost memorise the material.

The second step to this revision structure guide however, is to aim to test your knowledge so far.

This is a good step for a number of reasons. Firstly, it continues the idea of creating a bit of variety within your revision regime. It also allows you to get a feel for the types of questions which may be asked regarding the content, letting you think more “outside of the box” when it comes to certain theories etc.

An example of this that I would use concerning our study materials at Astranti, is the chapter revision questions and study texts combination. Testing your knowledge in little bite size portions like this, helps to reduce the overall scale of the revision, whilst also enabling you to keep working away a little (manageable) bit at a time.

3) Fill in the Gaps

Now that you have tested your knowledge, it is inevitable that there will be certain areas of the syllabus that perhaps you haven’t quite grasped yet, or that you believe you would benefit from having another look at having covered all that you can.

The third step therefore is to plan time for you to do just this, filling in any gaps in your knowledge that may exist. The length of time you spend on this section is entirely dependent on how you preformed in your mini test in step 2, as well as how well you feel you really understand the content.

4) Practice, Practice, Practice

Now that you have developed your knowledge and understanding of the content, the next step would be to practice, practice, practice! Mock exams are a great way to do this, and offer you both the ability to test your knowledge of the material, as well as your ability to perform under exam conditions.

With the revision system used so far, it is also important to test you ability to sit down for a longer period of time and physically complete an exam. There is no need to stop at one though, the more you can practice before the real exam, the more prepared you should be when the time comes.

5) Constructive Criticism

The final step in this revision structure guide, consists of any final swotting up that may be required. This could include having another look over all of the material, picking areas that you may not feel as confident in. Or alternatively it could come as a result of any holes in your knowledge highlighted through the practice sessions. It is important that any marks, feedback or comments at this time are taken on board with a positive attitude; being able to learn from mistakes is vital at this stage, as it means that you can still do something about it as it’s not out of your control just yet!

Just make sure you do not leave this step too late! Having being stated at the start of this article, the majority of students like yourself lead extremely busy lives away from your studying. Ensuring that you plan each of the above stages into your revision plan from the start, you should always give a little extra room for any further study or anything else that may happen along the way. 

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