Make a list of all the topics which could come up in each exam. Then make a chart of those you intend to revise. It is unrealistic to cover every topic area for an exam. When doing this consider:
- Are there any core topics on which there are questions every year?
- The amount of choice given on each paper.
- Any pattern of questioning evident in past papers which is likely to continue.
- The emphasis of the course
- Your own interests and competences
- Decide how many days you will need to spend on each subject. Set yourself realistic targets so that when you achieve them you are giving yourself positive reinforcement. Over ambitious targets lead to disillusionment and feelings of failure. Reward yourself each time you achieve your goal.
- Allocate more time for your weaker subjects. Break them down into smaller components so that they feel more manageable. Avoiding them will only make them feel more daunting.
- Bear in mind that there are distinct stages to learning: acquiring, understanding and testing knowledge. Allow time for each of these stages.
- Your revision plan should be flexible – it is unlikely that you will be able to keep to it exactly. Include spare days. These can be used to catch up on topics which have taken you more time than you anticipated. You also need suitable rest and recreation intervals.
Exam Skills and passing test
- Before the exam: The day before check the time and venue of the exam and work out how to get there in plenty of time. Review your summaries and cue cards systematically. Make sure you have an adequate night’s sleep. In the morning of the exam have something to eat or take along some glucose sweets for energy. Arrive at the exam in plenty of time, to calm your inevitable nerves, but avoid conversations which you know will wind you up.
- During the exam: Read the question paper through once, underlining key words and instructions. Do not panic if your initial feeling is that you cannot answer any of the questions adequately. That is a common first reaction. Then go back and read it more thoroughly marking those questions which you feel you could answer. Read those questions which you have marked very carefully and decide exactly which you are going to answer. Answer questions in the order: easiest, favourite and difficult to avoid getting demoralised. Remember to attempt all the questions required, as the first 50% of marks for any question are invariably easier to obtain than the next 50%. Analyse carefully the precise wording of the questions you intend to answer – it is easy otherwise to end up answering a question that was not asked. Planning your essay is not an optional extra; it is crucial and you should not attempt to answer any question without having spent at least 10 minutes on your plan. Do not be put off by glancing around and seeing other students scribbling away at top speed straight away. These people should not be emulated. They have not taken the time to organise their ideas. You may write a bit less, but your essay will be much better than the one you would have produced if you had written “from the top of your head”. What matters is not how many pages you write but what you write. Read through your planned answer. Is it logically argued? Are the main issues covered? Does it really answer the question? How will the marker view your approach? Then voila, you’ve passed test .