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Ask the Expert: How to Tackle Revision

01/06/2016 11:44 | Updated 01 June 2016

Although this article is aimed at medical students, there's sensible advice here for all students with exams looming.


1. Create extra time

When the medical exam period arrives, we ALL wish we had started revision sooner and that we had more time - but do not underestimate the time that is still available.

You need to get smart and create extra time during the day by getting up earlier, shortening your lunch break and recording Hollyoaks so that you can watch it after the exam period.

The time BETWEEN exams is also rarely utilised well. There is nothing more you can do to influence the result for the exams that have passed. However, there is a lot you can do to improve your performance in the ones yet to be taken. Instead of spending hours dissecting your last exam, block it out of your mind and get back into revision mode.

2. A whole season of Grey's Anatomy does NOT constitute a revision break
When it comes to revision breaks- we like to lie to ourselves. Yes catching up with our favourite TV show would be lovely BUT in a 10 minute break it is impossible to watch an entire episode- let alone the whole Season!!

I'm sorry to break it to you, but it does not make good revision sense to spend 6 hours watching a whole season of your favourite show OR spending time on Youtube - trust me on this.
The breaks that you take should be away from a computer screen, otherwise it is not really a proper break for your eyes, body or mind.

How about instead of going onto Facebook, try doing some stretches, putting on your favourite song and dancing or doing a bit of tidying. Obviously these suggestions are for you if you're in your own room. If you prefer to frequent the library instead, I'd suggest going outside for a brisk walk during revision breaks.

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3. Split your time into manageable chunks

Why is it that even tidying seems more interesting than sitting with your books and revising when exams are looming?

I am sure I am not the only one to find social media and my phone a HUGE distraction when revising. Try putting your phone away and changing your Instagram/Twitter passwords just for the exam period.

Try this, spend a solid 15 minutes revising without doing ANYTHING else, then take a break.

Once the break has finished continue with a further 15 minutes of solid revision and repeat. If your concentration holds, then work for longer before a break. Slowly build up your stamina to revise for 40 minutes without a break.

When you work, work, and when you play, play.


4. It's a human thing- Talk to someone

Just a few minutes of conversation (preferably face-to-face) can leave you feeling more relaxed, happier, and ready to get going again.

If you're living in halls or in a shared house, one advantage is that you can usually drop in on a friend nearby, or find people gathered in a communal area.

Even an exchange with a stranger can have a positive impact. I am not suggesting you strike up a conversation on the street (especially in the middle of the night), but perhaps you could share a few words with the librarians or pop into the student cafe for lunch.

And remind yourself to smile- it really helps!

5. Exercise
One of the first things to be dropped during exam time is exercise. However, you need to look after your body physically, emotionally and mentally more than ever when going through a period of stress.
Go for a jog, go for a brisk walk around campus, do a workout DVD, whatever works for you - just as long as you boost your heart rate.

It'll really shake off that kind of sluggish despair that only exam revision periods can induce. You'll find your brain continues working on revision problems without you even realizing. When you return to work your mind will be able to focus better on the task at hand.

Finally, if you haven't logged out of Instagram or Twitter yet keep an eye on our timeline for some more studying tips: @helpmeimamedic

I hope this blog post has helped you to think of a few strategies that you could use to combat your stress levels before your upcoming exams.

How do you get rid of stress? If you've got any tried-and-tested strategies, do let us know - you definitely don't stop needing them after you graduate!

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