Exam Revision Tips

Ah, it's that time of the year again where the bloggers emerge using exams as an excuse to make a post to distract themselves from revising for those exams. I mean, as someone who has not updated this blog for a good two years, that is certainly what I am up to at 10 pm on a Friday night (just four days before my first exam).

Everyone has probably read all these tips and tricks posts before on ways to get through an exam or how to revise. Most of them don't even help, and we tend to just read them to procrastinate. And, since I read people so well and know what the public wants, I am here to provide; I am procrastinating (and wish to write about something more light-hearted and not academics related) and you are also looking for things to waste your time. This post is going to be highlighting the system I have put in place for myself to get the most revision out of me during these dire times.
1. Find your space
I believe this is one of the most important things to establish when it comes to chasing deadlines or revising for exams: get to know yourself and find out where you work best. Is this your: 
  • home 
  • library 
  • cafe 
  • other study areas? 
Depending on my mood I can work in a lot of places, and all of them offer their own little perks.

Working at home

Benefits: you don't have to spend money on food if you do get hungry after a long night as the kitchen is steps away. It requires tiny effort, and you can sit in your PJs and have unlimited coffee and snacks at hand.

Downside: flatmates or other people in the building being noisy and inconsiderate. More factors involved which can result in distraction.

Working in library
Benefits: You're offered more facilities, and it's an environment where you're surrounded by like-minded people with similar goals which can be encouraging for you to get your head down on your books. Loughborough's library is open 24/7 during exams so if you are a night owl and work best at 3 am rather than 10 am then the library and where you should go.

Downside: During busy times like exam season, the library is packed so when you go it's rare for you to find a computer. And even if you bring a laptop [sometimes] booths and tables are also full because everybody just flocks to the library. Plus, I hate working in the booths in the library because the desk is so low and after a few hours my back and neck just aches. This is often why I prefer to use the desktop computers because they're much better for your posture. Though this is entirely a personal thing as it is axiomatic that most people do not have a problem with it.

Working in a cafe

If you're someone who needs to be in a busy area, can't work alone and does not need to work on a desktop as you're perfectly fine with your laptop, then picking a nice coffee shop to revise will be perfect for you.

Benefits: You get wifi, sockets to keep your laptop charged, and some cafes open to as late as 11 pm (though the latest closing one in Loughborough is Starbucks which 9 pm). I find being around other people quite nice as there's this pressure to actually get your revision done when there are eyes on you (the library is a little different because everyone is too focused on their own studies to notice if you're procrastinating or not).

Downside: There is a closing time so it may not be suitable for everyone's schedule. Also, you need to pay for a coffee to sit there and do work (and we all know the student grind, every penny counts!).

Other study areas

Everybody goes to the library which results in the dread of walking in, looking lost, and not finding a study space. I honestly believe that students often do not explore the campus enough or get to know the facilities the university offer. There are study areas in all the buildings on campus (with computers!) which you can go when the library is packed. In Loughborough, you can go to James France, Haslegrave, EHB, Wolfson, and Brockington (just to name a few).

As pictured above, there are benches outside with shelters - which came in very handy when the sky started spitting - near engineering. It was warm (they go mad with the aircon indoors during summer), it was quiet as no one else was there, and I was very productive.

Benefit: These tend to be quite quieter compared to the library and offer a change of scenery (which is often needed in these times of repetition).

Downside: Some can only be accessed if you're a student of the course. Many do not offer access outside academic hours.

2. The 8-hour rule

So this thinking has really helped me in the past, and that is the 8-hour rule. When you manage to get yourself disciplined and into a routine, ensure that this practice is ingrained in your mind.

For 8 hours you sleep: I know some people are doing a degree which requires so much time out of their hands that they barely get much snooze but we need to remember that we need sleep! You can't function if you don't sleep and exams shouldn't get in the way of you catching them Zs.

For 8 hours you revise: I can see how this could be excessive to some (and perhaps not enough to others) but it doesn't have to be done all at once. You can break them up into chunks and take mini breaks inbetween!

For the other 8 hours you do whatever the hell you want: yes, you have time to chill. Yes, you can totally fit a couple episodes of your favourite Netflix series. After 8 hours of revision, you have earned it.

3. Work during the day 

I know this may not resonate with many of you but, personally, I've found this to be the best method for my productivity and happiness. I used to revise late throughout the night when everyone in the flat is fast asleep and then wake up at 11 am or sometimes even 2 pm because my time zone was whack. And what I did before I started my night owl revision system was: I chilled.

You guys are all familiar with that heavy weight feeling on your shoulders and twist in your stomach when you're relaxing on Netflix when you know you've still got so much revision to do. You feel guilty, and it's no longer a relaxing time. However, when you wake up early and work throughout daylight, you come back home knowing that you did the revision for the day and you can just relax watching your series without the guilt!

4. Take care of your body!
Does anyone actually get anything done when they're sleep deprived, hungry, and dehydrated? Yeah, didn't think so. 

Make sure you don't neglect your health because you're so busy. I think light exercise really helps so in the morning I take my bike to campus and play Pokemon Go for a little bit. I like to have a big meal before sitting down to revise and (I am still guilty and not always doing this) keeping a bit bottle of water next to me, so I stay hydrated. Plus, getting up to pee on a regular, I find, helps when I start to get a sore bum from sitting at a desk for too long.

5. Set realistic goals
When setting revision goals and to-do list for the day, make sure to not overdo it, or you'll spread yourself too thin, or worse stress yourself out because it's just not possible for you to complete it all in the time you've given yourself. 

Instead of telling yourself you'll study 14 topics today and then do 8 pass papers tomorrow, break them into more specific goals and smaller ones. That way you'll absorb the information better, and you're not stressing yourself. For example:

Monday: Study 2 lecture topics and do 1 pass paper

Tuesday: Complete 1 required reading from [blank] module and 1 from another

Also, make sure to have a rest day. If you're doing everything you can in the 6 out of 7 days, then you can afford to take one day off. With me, since I work part time I give myself the day I work off from revision. This way, I don't get too absorbed in my revision where I won't want to go into work or feel rushed.

6. Make use of limbo hours
You know those inbetween moments where you don't have anything to do whereas because you're going from one place to another or you're waiting for something? Just use the time to go over your notes. It's easier to look through the notes you've made on a regular because it helps you memorise it better.

So if you're on the travel, waiting for your pizza to arrive, waiting for your dinner to be cooked, they're good times to whip the notes out and just look through it. Most of you may already do this but I never and would use the limbo times to just chill!

7. Choose your revision partner wisely
Friends are great but there are some people where you just won't get anything done when you're with them. I hate arranging a study date with someone and when we meet they just complain and actually don't get their head down. 

I've been studying with my boyfriend (Ash C) recently and he's proven himself to be a great revision buddy (plus he gets me access to all the engineering computer rooms - which are 24 hours - that I normally would not have access to). Plus it helps that he's a big nerd and being with one of the cleverest human you know really motivates you to do well!

To add on, when you're revising with someone else you don't necessary have to sit next to each other. I've studied where we were in the same room but sat from opposite ends. And just yesterday I was outside doing my own thing and Ash was in Wolfson, a building which was right in front of me, with him occasionally coming out to say hi. It's just nice to know you have that presence nearby but you don't have to be within breathing vicinity.


I think that's all I got for today. I've always been more of a coursework person rather than exams, but I find when you've got a little system going it makes it more fun (or just more tolerable). It feels kind of nice to finally update this blog again. Maybe I'll return when I need an excuse to ramble?? *Gasp* Until next time!

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