“How you spend your time and where you focus your attention will determine how successful you are.” – Boss Babe

When you consider the term revision, what comes to mind? If you’re a high school or varsity student, you might think of revising for upcoming exams and going over your coursework to secure a good set of results.

Revision, in essence, is the act of editing, correcting, revising and updating what you know about a particular subject. It is one of the most important tools you have to prepare for assessments and doing well at them!

Although not particularly difficult or as challenging as most other activities, reviewing your past lessons and notes can be quite taxing and takes up a lot of time. Many a student has lost interest in their work and abandoned their studies altogether.

Notwithstanding, there is no need to feel stressed, since, after many decades of trial and error, past students, examiners and qualified teachers have come up with several revision techniques which can give any student a leg up, regardless of race, age or past experience.

Truly?

We kid you not … read on!

Today’s article highlights important study skills, as well as a number of cool exam preparation tips that can simplify the whole experience and leave you wondering what all the fuss was about!

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Test Yourself with a Quiz

A very good idea before an exam, is to put yourself to the test. This will help you gauge how well prepared you are for any upcoming exam.

Countless students, over many decades have made use of practice tests and quizzes to check out how well-prepared they were. What’s the reason for that? This particular technique is very helpful since it has been tried, tested and shown results. It also mentally prepares a student well to face an exam.

By crafting little quizzes, on a regular basis, anxious learners can extensively boost their knowledge of a subject, spot commonly made errors, correct them and remember difficult concepts with which they would, otherwise, have struggled.

It has been shown that students who regularly test themselves, take in and understand more information than those who do not. They also retain the information for a much longer period of time. One of the most important study skills, don’t you think? So, instead of turning your nose up at the idea, adopt it and you will soon strike on a solution that will work for you. Like what?

You would be surprised to find out that there are quite a few options available to you. There are a number of quizzes or mini-exams which are engaging, accessible, useful and user-friendly. Below is a batch of mini-quizzes that can help tremendously with exam preparation:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Short-answer quizzes
  • Cloze exercises
  • Paragraph-type questions
  • Essential definitions and vocabulary

Students can, quite successfully, design tests or quizzes for themselves following the same format used by their teachers or lecturers, just on a smaller scale. Another of the many exam preparation tips, which is extremely helpful, would be to review class notes and worksheets, which your teacher reckoned important enough to include in lessons. These will direct you towards the kind of questions that may be posed in your upcoming exam.

We also recommend that you design a template for a practice exam, which allows for various questions and answers to be entered. This you can photocopy and make use of on several occasions, so that you get to practise answering a number of questions set out in the same way as they would appear in the exam.

Additionally, although all teachers or lecturers may not be open to the idea, approach them for copies of past papers.

Why is that?

Previous papers will provide you with lots of valuable information: which questions appear consistently and how questions are worded.

This exercise will turn out to be very useful since you will pick up many useful tips and practise how to best formulate your responses to the questions.

How to Use Visual Aids Effectively

man creating mind map using coloured markers
Visual aids such as mind maps can help improve revision tactics. - Source: Unsplash

It is not merely a suggestion that you actively have to revise for your examinations – it’s mandatory, as it is essential to your success in the future! Does that sound intense to you? It should.

Since, for many, the idea of constantly revising notes is pretty boring, it will please you to know that there are revision techniques that can add a bit of colour and make studying engaging and worth your while. For instance?  Bright, bold and beautiful visual aids!

Also identified as graphic organisers, visual aids, e.g. Sequential Thinking Method and Venn diagrams, help to organise information and keep them things pretty at the same time.

So, now, instead of carrying on in the same old, humdrum way of rewriting all your class notes, teach yourself a new way of setting out the learning material in such a way that you create meaningful connections and links that you become ingrained on your memory.

Venn diagrams are of course, are not the only graphic organisers that are worthy of mention. Below follow a couple of other visual aids that can be employed:

  • Spider Maps
  • Webs
  • Chains
  • Mind Maps
  • Thinking of Right Angles
  • Flashcards

To ace that next exam, Google the above-mentioned graphic organisers and find the one that is the best fit for you and your particular way of learning!

Flashcards Are the Bomb

girl making flashcards with brightly coloured paper
Make your own flashcards using brightly coloured paper to aid your exam revision. - Source: Pexels

Of all the aforementioned graphic organisers, flashcards come as the most commonly recommended. Why is that? The reason is that flashcards help the brain to remember and recall key information far better than other visual aids and quizzes.

Also, although many students brand them as being too boring and generic, there is one great reason that many educational experts continue to use flashcards:  they work and have, undoubtedly, contributed to the success of countless students in examinations! How so? Educational experts and psychologists have found that flashcards assist learners in the following ways:

  1. Flashcards successfully utilise an important tool in learning, active recall,
  2. They use and activate meta-cognitive abilities that can, in essence, be said to be an act of self-reflection,
  3. The repetition exercises, utilising flashcards, helps to build confidence.

The above-mentioned concepts all are fundamentally important in the acquisition of new information and its long-term retention. So, right there you have the tools for your future success, right at your fingertips ... for life, not just for exams!

An important point to mention is that flashcards are not only useful for exam review. They are also very effective at assisting people to remember faces and names, the mastering of long poems and acquiring the fundamentals of a foreign language.

Nevertheless, flashcards must be properly employed so that they can be effective and have the desired impact on your studies! Like with many other activities, flashcards will greatly contribute towards your successfully completing an exam, if you utilise them judiciously! What, then, is the best way to make use of flashcards? Below are some tips which prove to be helpful:

  • Design Your Own Flashcards: while the Internet offers many interesting and eye-catching printable cards for a wide range of varsity of high school topics, creating your own is, by far, the best course to follow. How so? By creating your very own flashcards you will activate what are called neural pathways, which are the pathways followed by the brain to retrieve stored information. You will be laying down stepping stones, bread crumbs or pebbles (as in the Grimm fable Hansel and Gretel) to help you get back to important information later on. Whether you make use of key words, drawings or pictures, you will be creating your own, personalised way to retrieve information studied, at a later date.
  • Create Drawings on Flashcards: it has been said that a picture paints a thousand words. If you can find images to represent the ideas that you need to remember, you will be putting a wonderful tool to assist your brain recall the information when exam season comes around. The use of colour will also enhance the speed at which you’ll be able to access the stored information.
  • Decompose Difficult Concepts: when dealing with complex issues or loads of data, rather use several flashcards, so that the information is broken down into ‘digestible’ chunks. This way, the brain will not become overwhelmed because each card will not be too ‘busy’.
  • Use the Reverse Side Too: when making use of flashcards, it is an excellent idea to use both sides of the card. This will fire up more neural pathways as the brain links the front side to its reverse. Print an important point on the front, possibly, with a supporting drawing or picture; and, on the back side include any supporting details!

If you were to put into place some of the above-mentioned pointers, you will definitely be in an advantageous position able to ace the toughest exam that may come your way!

Before we end, if your preference is to lean towards something more digital, many students across the world have enjoyed making use of Anki flashcards. According to Wikipedia, Anki flashcards are “a free and open-source flashcard program using spaced repetition, a technique from cognitive science for fast and long-lasting memorization.” These flashcards use HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and may include images, text, videos, sound and LaTeX equations.

We know that the exam preparation tips and the important study skills, shared in this article, will provide you with some great revision and study techniques which will put you in a strong position when exam season rolls around again! Go forth: swot and enjoy!

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Trevor

Career teacher turned writer. Passionate about family, running, and the great outdoors.