The first step is to draw up a plan. Without one, you won’t use your time effectively.
To do this, you need to (i) work out your goal, and then (ii) plan how you’ll get there.
This is basic information-gathering, and should take about an hour.
- How many exams do you have?
- For each exam:
- When is it?
- How long is it?
- What is its weighting (what percentage is it of the overall mark for that course)?
- What is the format (eg open book, take home…)?
- What will the exam itself consist of (eg multiple choice; essays; problem solving; short or long answers…)?
- Will you have a choice of questions?
- Useful sources of information:
- Consult your course handbook;
- Check your lecture notes;
- Discuss any areas of uncertainty with your Course Co-ordinator or Uni Tutor;
- Look at past exam papers – ask your College Tutor or Academic Co-ordinator if you’re not sure how to do this. Past papers can be a hugely valuable resource.
By the end of this process you should be absolutely clear about what is expected of you.
So, you know the goal – now you need to get there.
Add to your planner:
- When each exam is;
- Unavoidable commitments (eg other academic work such as classes and assignments, or work commitments);
- Time for exercise, meals, and down-time, eg socialising or Netflix.
You now know what time you have available for revision.
The next step is to divide up this available time between the topics you need to cover.
Here you need to be strategic.
For example: If you have 6 clear days for revision and 3 exams to prepare for, it might make sense to put 2 days aside for each exam. But if one is worth 70% and two are worth 30% you’ll probably want to spend more time on the 70% one.
Or if you’re super-confident about the material for one exam, but less so about the others, you might want to weight your time towards the topics where you feel a bit shakier.
Now, allocate blocks of time in your planner for each of the topics you need to cover.
Here are some pointers to bear in mind as you do this:
- Divide the job into bite-sized chunks of c.3 hours; these might be different topics, or areas of knowledge.
- Think about how you learn most effectively – you may find it best to spend a full day on one subject, or you may like to spend a morning on one thing and then the afternoon on a different topic altogether.
- Consider building in some ‘time cushions’ in case something takes longer than you expect.
- It can be helpful to build in time for some quick-fire exam practice, as well as for working with others studying the same subject.
- Before an open book exam, make time for getting your notes in order – eg some summary pages of notes for quick reference; adding post-it notes to pages you’ll want to find quickly.
- Don’t forget to plan in some down-time.
If you feel as if you have way too much stuff to get through in the time available, feel free to email Rachel and she can talk it through and figure out with you how best to prioritise things.