Sunday, 1 September 2013

A different ball game...aka the art of revision

A load of balls??

Well, the final TMA is done, the results are back, and it's definitely time to progress to the next stage - revision!

The question of revision is a difficult one - when to start, how much is enough, how to do it, when to do it?

Now some organised folks will start their revision right along with their normal learning.  Others the very second the last TMA is submitted.  Not saying that any of that is the wrong way to do things.  But for me, it would not be close enough to the exam to retain sufficient information.  So I have devised a system, over the last couple of courses, that appears to have worked reasonably for me so far.

Following the last TMA of a course, I know immediately that the last thing I wish to do is go anywhere near a computer.  And for once in my study life, I indulge that without student guilt setting in.  I allow myself a good 2 weeks break between the end of the TMA and the start of exam revision.  This usually also allows for TMA results to come back, which cements in my head any weak areas that I can arrange to spend extra time on.

And then I plan the day that I will start.  But Day 1 of revision simply involves making a revision plan.  (see I know that I will be in procrastination mood, having had time off, so I don't expect anything more taxing of myself than the promise of a plan of what and when and how).

The revision plan itself involves working out everything else that will stop me from studying, and figuring out a way to get some learning into my head despite all that.  So for example, if I know I will be out at meetings on a night, then I plan to read a certain unit on the bus to work, or in my lunch break, or even in the afore-mentioned bath.  On the simple grounds that 'anything is better than nothing' when it comes to revision.

I will also download precisely two old past papers as well as the specimen exam for my course.  Why two?  That number simply allows me to look for trends of a kind, but between the 3 papers there is just enough not to send me over the edge into exam-panic, which can be counter-productive (literally), as I get nothing done once I feel like that (except for the washing and ironing!!).  These I will work on in small doses throughout the revision period, and on one final day close to the exam under simulated exam timings.

I also plan to take time off from revision, with at least two nights in a week where no study at all is required (although I still feel the guilt pangs at these times).

How much is enough?  Finally as the day itself dawns, I print out as much as I can to cover my weak spots, and read them on the train to the exam centre.  I've tried more general flashcards and broader revision at this time, but that just sends the brain into panic mode too.  So enough is enough.

Throughout the process I remind myself of two things:
(1)  This is still voluntary!!
(2)  All I need to pass is 40%.  Anything else is a bonus.

The knotty problems of revision

Touch wood, these strategies have worked so far.  So onward and upward, stop procrastinating at once and start making that revision plan!

What's next?

To answer that - I don't have an answer for anyone yet.  That question is still remaining mysterious to me too. From a work point of v...