6 exam preparation mistakes you really don’t want to make

Blog back by popular demand! Many students don’t end up as prepared for exams as they planned to be. Other commitments mean that their preparation is less than ideal and revision is often rushed. Here are the top six mistakes you can avoid by planning your revision carefully and looking after yourself.

6 exam preparation mistakes you really don’t want to make

Blog back by popular demand! Many students don’t end up as prepared for exams as they planned to be. Other commitments mean that their preparation is less than ideal and revision is often rushed. Here are the top six mistakes you can avoid by planning your revision carefully and looking after yourself.

  • Bad Habit #1: Studying without a plan

Still at number 1 this is the single biggest mistake students can make! Planning is really important when you come to studying and learning. The problem is that studying without a plan is unfocused and you are likely to waste time. It’s always best to create a study plan first that outlines the specific activities you are planning on doing. Map out every day, whether it is a work day or not and allocate a reasonable amount of time (this is probably 10-12 hours per subject per week as you get into the last 2-3 weeks prior to the exams)

 

  • Bad Habit #2: Memorising your notes or the study text

Do you revise by reading your notes to yourself again and again? Research has shown that this is a really inefficient way to learn. Instead, imagine you were a lecturer at FI and lecture to an imaginary class about the main topics, without using your notes.

If you can explain a concept out loud, in complete sentences, it is likely that you will learn it and that you will understand it. If you can’t explain it out loud, then go back to your notes and review what was confusing you and try again (you might even start to enjoy lecturing!). If you don’t want to hear your voice then try to write down everything you know about a subject. Use the simple headings to help you of “Why? How? What? When? Who?” as this normally helps to structure your thinking.

 

  • Bad Habit #3: Studying late at night

Such a big no no! It’s remarkable how many students think the best time to study is around 10/11pm (once Champions League highlights have finished) for an extended period of a couple of hours.

Firstly, research shows our brains cannot focus in the middle of the night, secondly staying up late will impact on stamina the next day and you are more likely to fall ill. Research shows that it is best to study in smaller chunks and (ideally) early in the morning.

 

  • Bad Habit #4: Focusing on note-taking rather than understanding

Concentrate more on understanding what is being said in a lecture as it is being said, as opposed to switching into note taking mode. Ask questions if you need to – all tutors are there to help.

When taking notes, try to write the concepts in your own words as it will help you understand the ideas when you reflect on them in the future.

 

  • Bad Habit #5: Never taking a break

It is not the amount of time you spend revising it is the quality of study during that time. Some students think that as long as they are in their room with books out then something is going in, unfortunately this is not the case (neither is putting notes under your pillow and hoping for learning osmosis to happen!). Unless doing timed questions you should be taking a 10-15 min break every 45 mins. When you come back the FIRST thing you should do is a quick test of yourself on what you were doing in the previous hour to ensure it is retained.

 

  • Bad Habit #6: Always putting off doing question practice

If you were to learn to drive a car would you only ever spend time reading the highway code or would you get in the car and make a lot of mistakes? No one can learn to do something without actually trying it, and the more you try the better you get (if you have excellent feedback on what went wrong!) that is why getting questions marked, self marking, reading good examples of answers and doing questions to time is so important. Your last week or so should really be spent on only doing questions and then going back to notes when you don’t know the answers.

First Intuition has helped thousands of students pass their exams. Find out what makes us different.

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