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8 Revision Mistakes You May Have Been Making

8 Revision Mistakes You May Have Been Making

If you have an exam coming up, you may find that you are desperately short of time for some vital revision. This is the case for the majority of students and we have all been there. But there are some revision mistakes you can avoid making to ensure your revision is both effective and organized. Here are 8 revision mistakes to avoid and suggestions about what you should do instead.

1. You think that cramming will work

You may think that intensive revision during a long period of time will be effective. It is actually a waste of time and energy. Studying for long hours will tire your brain and there is no guarantee that you will remember the facts in the long term, although in the short term, you might. UCLA researchers have found that cutting back on sleep while studying for long periods of time results in academic performance being negatively affected.

The best thing to do is to build in short revision periods as you learn. This consistency will pay handsome dividends in the long term because it helps to move material from your short term memory into the long term memory. This will make the final revision so much easier.

2. You think that revising with friends is always a good idea

In many countries, studying and revising together with other students is very popular. It may work for some students but the fact is that each student has a different learning style. Some learners are visual learners while others do better with auditory material. Their timetables may not suit you and your capabilities are bound to be different. On the other hand, their perspectives on certain topics may help you discover different viewpoints.

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Group work is not always a good idea, but you can profit from it if you do it right. The Open University recommends that you try to teach others in your group what you have learned. It is a great way to test how well you have revised and how effectively you have mastered some concepts, ideas or facts. If you prefer revising alone and find other students’ presence off-putting and distracting, then opt to go solo.

3. You are not familiar with the exam tasks

Many students fail to study carefully the actual questions they may be asked. There may be open essay type questions, multiple choice options or discussion topics, depending on the subject matter. It is always a good idea to download past papers, so that you know what to expect when you get into the exam room.

This is an essential part of a revision plan because you will be focusing on what you actually have to do with the learned material on the day of the test. But you have to revise thoroughly. There is no point in simplay working through loads of past test papers, hoping you might get the same questions. Answering exam questions is not the same as memorizing and revising knowledge.

4. You do not make enough breaks

Some students never make proper breaks during their revision time. They go for hours and think that drinking coffee or even taking study stimulants will keep them going. This is not the best use of their time. Most experts now say that around 40/45 minutes is the ideal study time block. After that you should have a break by going for a walk or doing some stretching exercises or even relaxing with a computer game. Breaks should be about 10 minutes long. But again, remember that individual learning styles can vary.

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5. You are not getting the support you need

Many students fail to involve their family members or friends in a supportive way. They do not warn them that they should not be interrupted. They never bother to tell them that their final revision time is precious and that they need a proper diet, regular mealtimes, enough sleep and exercise. The most useful tactic is to get them all involved so that they know your timetable and also know why this exam is so important for you.

You can also ask them at certain times to give you a thorough test of your knowledge by getting them to interrogate you. Show them your notes and ask them to give you the third degree! This may work for you and it also involves your family much more.

6. You have not checked your optimal routine

Everybody says that you should study early in the morning when you are most alert. But this is not true for everyone. You need to make sure that your routine fits in well with your daily circadian rhythms or your sleep-wake cycle. The best solution is to actually find out what might be the best time to revise as some people actually perform better as the day wears on.

Do the BBC quiz here to make sure you are on the right track with your revision schedule. There are also useful revision timetable planners online. Find out about these and see whether they can help you if you have problems in getting your revision time organized.

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7. You underestimate the importance of physical exercise

A lot of students actually cut down their exercise regime while revising. This is the worst thing they can do. Your brain is tired but your body is not! In addition, the movement will improve your blood circulation and that means your brain will get more oxygen which will help to improve its performance during this critical time. Always go for a walk or run when your brain starts to get tired.

8. You do not test yourself on a regular basis

I know a lot of students who do not regularly test themselves on what they have learned and do not know whether they have really revised sufficiently. This is a big mistake as reading over notes again and again is just not enough. This is what Ed Cooke, the British memory champion, recommends.

He suggests that students should test themselves at intervals of say, 10 minutes after the first revision, then more tests an hour later and then after a day or two. This is the only way to ensure that the knowledge is stored in your long term memory.

If you avoid the above mistakes, you will be able to revise much more efficiently and save loads of time as well.

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Let us know in the comments what techniques you use to make your revision less painful.

Featured photo credit: 272/365 Outdoor Revision/Stuartpilbrow via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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