Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Student's Guide to Revision

If the school timetable tells you exams start on the 20th, you know they really start on the 10th. Oh, you make up your mind to lock yourself in a room with your textbooks and notes without any entertainment, but today's Student's Guide to Revision will take you through how to study effectively, efficiently, and cynically.

1. Throw out most of your textbooks/notes.

Like it or not, the truth is that most of the stuff you do in school won't be tested. That translates to most of your time in school is wasted, but really, that can' t be helped. Stop wasting any more: if it's not in the syllabus, throw it out. If it contains pictures that are borderline out-sy, throw it out.

But this isn't Asshai — if an onion is half rotted a worksheet is half useful, keep it. Make a note somehow; highlight the useful lines, draw a star, rip out the useless bit. Do what you like; after all, no one reads those notes after exams.

2. Now, ignore the rest.

Chill, I didn't tell you to sort for nothing. Collect your notes and condense them into a simple document. Honestly, you'll realize that teachers like to say things over and over and over again. The point of this exercise is to allow yourself to study 5 pages of stuff that will be tested instead of 30 pages of semi-useful, doodled-over nonsense.

Trust me, it works. I once condensed my entire biology textbook into 3 pages of notes. And proceeded to score an A+.

3. Don't study too early.

You always make a resolution that you'll start studying for year-end exams in Easter, but it never seems to work out. It is not your fault. Teachers have an irritating tendency to teach until the last class and test you up to that. Or, they give out last-minute exam tips. Besides, studying too early will just make it easier to forget all the material.

Commence prep work (i.e. step 1) earliest after the second last lesson before the exam, and actual studying after the last lesson. Ignore teachers who tell you otherwise. Who's taking the exam, you or them?

(Interesting anecdote: there was a question in my math exam that no one could do. When we asked the teacher to explain, he refused because it would take half an hour. FYI, the exam was 1.25 hours long and we had 17 other questions. Woohoo.)

4. Moderate the amount of distraction during studying.

Moderate, not minimize. Locking yourself with your study materials is just asking for sleep. Allow a certain amount of distraction that will hold your attention fleetingly—instrumental music (not pop music, and dear heavens, certainly not an album you adore), 2048 if you've beaten it, sudoku, whatever works for you. Its job is to let your brain rest for a couple of minutes but not be interesting enough to eat up hours.

Tumblr. No, no, no, no, and no. Just, no.

You can go on afterwards, okay? That distraction level is in the skies.

(I'm wondering if I'm a bit too serious; I've tried to keep my voice light and snarky, but somewhere my inner nerd came out and forced me to give actual tips. What do you guys think?)

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