This morning I took a trip to Jessica North’s blog to find her post on exam revision advice. A highly useful post and I recommend you to read it. Below is the method I generally use for exams.
Exams do not Measure Intelligence
Repeat this sentence over and over again, until you believe it. Some students at University are under the odd illusion that they are not intelligent and therefore they will not get full marks in an exam. If you don’t revise at University then getting full marks is close to impossible. Your grade will reflect your revision but more importantly, your revision method. How do you revise for an exam?
The General Method
Sitting down with a book and making many notes is important, this method may work but in my experience it is important to play to your strengths. Are you the sort of person who has an analytical mind who can easily fetch written information? You may be. In which case stop reading this blog post. Otherwise I suggest a method I use which I have found to be effective.
Accessing Information in the Mind
Three things to keep in mind when revising:
1) How are you consuming the information?
2) Is the information being consumed relevant?
3) How are you organising the information?
When sitting down and revising make sure the information you are learning is all necessary. This can be found by discussing the content of the exam with your tutor. For my technique it is important that all the information stored can be used in the exam. This information will take two forms:
1) It is directly relevant with the subject area
- This information usually comes straight from lessons and textbooks
2) It is information which links into the subject area
- This usually is the result of further reading
Play point 2 to your strength. If you are not 100% comfortable with the subject of your exam question then see if you can manipulate the answer to go in line with a subject you are comfortable with. As long as you can back up point 2 with content from point 1, then this is a useful technique. It marks that you have learnt class material but have stepped over the mark with further knowledge; University is all about further knowledge.
Visual Mind Maps (Focus on informational links)
Whilst revising build put all the key points onto a visual mind map. This is a spider diagram which will highlight the relationship between point 1 and point 2 information (the directly relevant and the further reading). The more information you learn the harder it can be to find links. When you need to write 1500 words on a subject in an exam this mind map will allow you to remember the links between all the information you have revised.
Keep the mind map on the wall. I usually place this by my desk or over my bed. Keep it there for one month and you will soon find it easy to remember the layout of this mind map. This assists you to remember analytical information in a visual way. It is a cheat revision method.
So the mind map will help you remember how all the information links together. Now you need to remember all the information which needs to be linked. Personally I do this by object association. My post here explains how you can remember this information in your head, otherwise I suggest a more physical method (I used the below physical method during my GCSE and A Level exams).
When going into exams I realised that I would take many pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners that I didn’t need for the exam. By rights you are allowed to take these objects into an exam hall. In your mind associate bits of information against each piece of stationary. Whilst you will rely on your memory for further detail the object association of a stationary item will jog your memory when under pressure. For instance:
Blue Colouring Pencil = Edward Bernays
Green Colouring Pencil = Sigmund Freud
Red Colouring Pencil = Joseph Goebbels
Ruler = Conversation Theory
I’m sure you get the picture…
I realise this technique is not for some but it has helped me in the past. You will need to train your mind before this method but once you have the hang of object association exams become a little bit easier. If you cannot beat an exam with brain power then the key is your strategy, this blog post is the strategy I occasionally use. However during my GCSEs I had so many exams on it was difficult keeping up with the associations!