How to revise in a week

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Cramming for exams is bad. You know it, we know it and yet everyone still does it to some extent. In fact, sometimes cramming doesn’t have to be bad – even if you've been hitting the books every week you'll still be tempted to skim over your flash cards on the morning of the exam.

There’s a right and a very wrong way to revise quickly, which is why we’ve used the combined power of our students, experts and the internet to show you how to revise in a week if you've left it til the last minute.

But first...

Why you should leave this article, use the time you have left and avoid cramming: 

Now that’s out of the way, take a look at some of the best revision tips if you don’t have much time on your hands.

Ban procrastination!

That’s how we got here in the first place, so let’s not keep it up. Luckily, it’s a lot easier to stop procrastinating when the pressure is on, but if you’re still having trouble, take a look at our top tips to help you throw away your phone and switch the Playstation off. 

Rimah

If you haven’t got time for detail, stick to the essentials

Learning the key points of a topic should be your main focus when cramming. There’s no use in knowing a single quote from 'To Kill a Mockingbird' if you don’t fully understand the overall story. Use end of chapter summaries in textbooks and online resources like Sparknotes to maximise your cramming potential.

Multi-tasking is multi-useless

You might be tempted to try and revise three subjects at once but that’s not going to happen. Focus on your weakest areas instead of juggling English with biology and not remembering much of either. Multi-tasking is actually the act of switching from one task to the other very quickly, and each time you do this, you lose a little concentration.

Andreea

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

You might think you’ve got no time for practice papers or questions but cramming without testing yourself is like going to the cinema and not ordering a human-sized bucket of popcorn – not worth it. In fact, the best place to start would be to do as many practice papers as possible and make a note of the questions you didn’t do well on so you can cram those topics.

Whatever you do, don’t pull an all-nighter.

Losing one night’s sleep can impair reasoning and memory for up to four days! Basically, even if you managed to read all your textbooks twice by sacrificing on your sleep, it’s likely that all that cramming will be wasted. Make sure you get a sleep well the night before the exam as well as the week before.  

Top Tip

If you can, take a walk before your exam. Your brain lights up after exercise and becomes more responsive, meaning you’re less likely to struggle with that first question.
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What not to do:


1
Use highlighters – they’re not magic

If you can restrain yourself, then highlighters are great at pointing key information out. Alternatively, if you’re not very disciplined, they’re a great way to waste 20 minutes colouring your book in. If you must use highlighters stick to highlighting single words, not phrases. Just be careful you don't end up like these unfortunate highlighter abusers. 

2
Think that all the information is going to absorb into your brain

This is the biggest revision lie we all tell ourselves. Staring at our books and skim reading never helps. Keep testing yourself with practice papers to make your revision worthwhile.

3
Keep re-reading the same notes

This might help you revise when you have a longer period of time to look over your notes, as revisiting repeatedly helps you commit them to memory, but it’s not a great tactic when you only have a few weeks (or days!)

4
Think about how badly you’re going to do

You’re going to do great! As long as you put your mind to it. Nurturing negative thoughts can often hurt your motivation.

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