Revision & Examination technique
Advice on final revision
• It might to bear in mind what the purpose of the examination is. Examinations test for three main characteristics: o An overall understanding of the syllabus
o An ability to recall facts and ideas covered in the syllabus o An ability to marshal these facts and ideas into a coherent argument (which is relevant to the question being asked!) within a limited time • These are the characteristics which you ought to bear in mind during your final revision period i.e., the last 3 / 4 weeks. • The key word throughout this period must be organisation. It is often said that to do yourself justice in the examination it must be approached as if it is a military campaign. Your revision must be structured and sensible (so no staying awake until all hours – exhaustion is no aid to logical thought!). • Another important word is consolidation – remember, by this stage, you should not be reading parts of the course which you have not succeeded in covering yet or introducing yourself to new ideas. Even if you have not as yet completed the syllabus, it will be more fruitful to concentrate on, and consolidate the knowledge and understanding you have already acquired rather than trying to get to grips with new material.
• Prepare a timetable which is realistic (an unrealistic one will only succeed in demoralising you!) and which includes adequate breaks. Decide upon how much time you have and divide the syllabus into sections, ensuring that each has adequate time. • If your notes are copious then break them down to their bare essentials – many students find that mind maps are helpful here. On the other hand if your notes are sparse then do the opposite i.e. build them up, ensuring that you have all the main points, and working up into brief summaries. When you are doing this you must test your recall. • From time to time you will need to turn to your texts but be careful not to spend hours reading them passively as very little is served by this. Always remember that a successful student is an active one. So write things down, read aloud, rehearse ideas mentally, draw diagrams. • It would be beneficial to sit a mock examination using a specimen paper and/or past papers. Many students are repelled by this idea, fearing that it will simply demoralise them. However, it does help to take the tension out of examination day and can demonstrate better than any other method areas of weakness that require special attention during the final revision. • For it to be of maximum benefit a mock examination should simulate the real thing as closely as possible – three hours, no looking at texts or notes and no extensions. Then after you have finished you can check the answers in your course materials to determine any gaps and weaknesses. • Question practice is another useful technique that can be utilised. Again you need to keep to the time limit and no cheating! Allow 10 minutes for the plan, 45 minutes for writing and 5 minutes to check over your answer. It is important to encourage good practice at this stage so that when you enter the examination it will be second nature to you. • These revision strategies demand a high degree of organisation and self-discipline but they do pay off even if it is harder to employ these techniques than to drift towards the examination, passing the time in passive and spasmodic reading! • Remind yourself from time to time that this is your exam; you are doing it because you have chosen to, and because the tension it creates is a very productive force which will help you with some difficult learning . In other words the ideal situation is that you learn to live with the pressures and to use them to achieve things for yourself.
Tackling the examination
On the great day
On the day itself try to approach the exam calmly. Go about the normal business of getting up and starting the day in an unhurried way. Do not attempt any last minute...
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