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8 Revision Mistakes You May Have Been Making

8 Revision Mistakes You May Have Been Making
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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

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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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