Every student is different. We have different needs, different learning styles, and different types of intelligence. Therefore, it is only sensible to acknowledge that we will all have different revision requirements.
I’m sure you have all read many academically driven recommendations about the most effective ways to revise. I know I have tried them all. After 5 ½ years at University, I think that I have just about nailed which revision techniques work for me. The University of Manchester Learning Essentials website has some great resources for traditional studying methods but this blog is going to focus on the more abstract approaches.
#1 Play classical music
Studying isn’t exactly a relaxing task and so using music to create a more comforting environment has been shown to increase productivity and acquisition of knowledge. Research has shown that classical music benefits the brain, sleep patterns, immune system, and stress levels; which are all helpful when faced with exams. The thought process behind this notion is that the music puts students into a heightened emotional state, so that they are more receptive to information.
#2 Use fragrances
Sense stimulation has been proven to improve memory. Research conducted by Northumbria University identified that rosemary contributed to an increase in memory capability. I usually use wax melts or essential oils to fragrance my workspace and excite my olfactory system whilst delving into my books.
#3 Take a herbal tea break
Research conducted by the department of psychology at Northumbria University has identified that peppermint tea enhanced mood and cognition. So next time you have a break from studying, think about pouring yourself a hot cup of peppermint tea rather than reaching for the coffee.
#4 Post-it-notes mania
Cover your room or house in post-it-notes. I usually stick revision questions all over the house so that before I can make a cup of tea or open the fridge, I have to answer the question correctly. Just be careful on their placement… from past experiences, directly onto a hot appliance is not a good move.
#5 Mirror talk
If you’re a kinaesthetic learner, then ensuring both the mind and body are engaged is an essential revision practice. I often sit in front of a mirror and recite pieces of information to myself, as if I was presenting them to an audience. It’s surprising how much easier it is to recall knowledge once you’ve said it aloud. WARNING: don’t try this in a crowded library!
Finding podcasts that are relevant to particular learning topics can help immerse yourself into the subject. Whilst the podcasts may not broadcast exactly what you need to know, they can help to broaden your knowledge and build upon your learning. You might even get extra credit for mentioning something that’s not on the curriculum.
#7 Portable revision
As an active individual, I find sitting still in the same environment for an extended period of time extremely problematic. I combat this issue by regularly moving to a different place in my house or library, either after a break or when I start a new topic. This not only mixes things up but allows me to associate pieces of information with particular places, making memory recall a whole lot easier.
#8 Get people involved
Boredom is a real issue when it comes to revising and so getting third party participants involved can be a great way to jazz things up. By explaining concepts to others, you are actively distributing the information rather than just passively absorbing it and therefore more likely to understand it. By the end of my exams last year, my partner was pretty much as clued up as I was in the year 2 Dentistry topics.
#9 Work whilst working out
It isn’t a secret that exercising can help relieve exam stress but often it’s difficult to find the time to hit the gym when you are in the midst of revision. Combining the two could be the perfect solution. Next time you are on the elliptical machine, bring your revision notes and use the time to get some good undisturbed reading done. That’s multitasking at its best!
#10 Pre exam walk
Exercise really does boost your memory and brain productivity. Dr Chuck Hillman conducted research at the University of Illinois which identified 20minutes of light exercise before an exam can improve performance. Why not think about walking to your exam rather than taking the bus or getting up a little earlier and doing some yoga (see my blog post on home workouts for the perfect 30-minute vinyasa flow) before you leave the house.
I hope that these less conventional revision tips can aid you in your exam preparation this year. Studying isn’t easy but the hardest part is getting started, so get your head down and start mastering your own way to revise. The earlier you start, the less pressure there will be further down the line and the more time you will have to decide what revision practices work for you.
Happy studying and keep Studenting!