Revision and exams - Module 1: Learning How to Learn - Smarter Learning - Improve Your Study Skills and Practices
Once you have got a general understanding of the process of learning how to learn, and have tried applying it to an assignment, you may be able to see how the same approach can be applied to revision, exams or any other form of assessment at the end of your course. This section looks at how the four phases (preparing, exploring, implementing and reviewing) relate to revision and exams.
You might prefer to skim through this section at this stage and return to it as your exam gets closer. However, the skills and the strategies that you need to use during revision and in exams may be very different from those you use during your study of other course components, so do leave time to practise them.
Both activities in this phase - analysing the task and making a plan - are critically important when it comes to preparing for an exam.
Start by gathering together everything you have been sent that relates to the exam or end-of-course assessment for your current course. Also collect any advice you have had in the past about exam preparation.
The really important thing at this stage is to try and obtain a specimen exam paper or any detailed instructions relating to your end-of-course assessment. While you are looking at these documents, think through what it is that you are expected to do and look back at any previous experiences you have had that might be relevant to the task.
Although this sounds as though it may not seem very appropriate in the context of revision and exams, it is critically important that you re-explore the course as you do your revision or prepare your end-of-course assessment.
Studying the materials is important as many exams and end-of-course assessments require you to step back and review the course as a whole as well as consider the component parts. This is where you may need different skills and strategies; so, try different ways of recording and remembering information.
Keep an eye on your schedule and monitor your progress as you work through your revision. If you are facing an exam, make sure you practise answering questions from the sample or back papers. If you are completing an end-of-course assessment, keep checking the requirements, the instructions and advice you have been given.
As with assignments, this is the phase when you actually do the task - sit the exam or produce the final version of your end-of-course assessment. This is where monitoring your performance is really important. For most students, the crucial thing in an exam is usually to monitor the timing. Most end-of-course assessments have no time constraints although you may find the deadline very tight.
But timing is not the only thing to monitor - check that you are answering the question asked; that your calculations are accurate, and so on.
You may remember that the second component of the implementing phase was to make a self-assessment. This may sound a strange thing to suggest in relation to exams. However, generally students do not get many opportunities to improve their performance in exams so, once the actual event is over, make yourself spend a short time trying to assess your performance before the details fade in your memory.
Undoubtedly this is the most difficult phase to apply to revision and an exam or to the preparation and production of an end-of-course assessment. Most of us heave a huge sigh of relief when it is all over and then try to put it out of our minds during the weeks while we wait for the results. When these arrive, it is very difficult to think back to the exam itself or revisit the details of the end-of-course assessment.
It is also likely that you may have quite strong feelings about the results - delight, amazement, relief, disappointment, even despair. Whatever your reaction, remember that there are people who can help you review the process and advise you if you want or need to take action. Remind yourself that this is the best time to review both your revision period and your exam performance. Try to identify what you can learn from it that might help you to handle the process more effectively next time