Revising for assessments can be a daunting task and exam pressure can feel overwhelming. The following guidance is aimed to help support your exam preparation.
Discover what learning techniques work best for you
Revision works differently for everyone; you may find that the style of learning that suits you is completely different to your course mates.
The VARK model explained below divides learning techniques into four areas: Visual learners, Auditory learners, Reading/Writing learners, and Kinaesthetic learners. Using the VARK model, you can discover what type of learner you are and therefore what revision techniques will work best for you:
Visual - Visual learners prefer the use of images, maps, and graphics to learn new information.
Study Strategies - These learners may benefit from using graphics to organise information:
- Why not try using colours, charts, graphs, or diagrams to brighten up your page;
- Redraw your pages from memory;
- Replace important words with symbols/initials;
- Highlight important terms in different colours.
Auditory - Auditory learners grasp new content through listening and speaking.
Study Strategies - These learners often benefit from using repetition as a study technique:
- Record your notes and listen to them back;
- Discuss what you have learnt with others;
- Re-read your notes out loud.
Read/Writing – broadly speaking, these learners thrive by reading and writing.
Study Strategies - For instance, by note taking or re-reading their textbooks
- Write and rewrite your notes;
- Reword main ideas and principles to gain a deeper understanding;
- Organise diagrams, charts, and graphics into statements;
Kinaesthetic - These students are hands-on learners and learn best through figuring things out by hand;
Study Strategies - Practical learning is something that may have been difficult this year given the barriers to social activity:
- If this style of learning suits you, why not try to use real life examples and case studies in your revision summaries,
- Re-do lab experiments or projects if activity is permitted (nothing too dangerous!);
- Illustrate your revision notes.
Make a plan
Making a good plan is a really effective way of saving time in the long run. Plans help you stay on track, remain focussed and make you feel good when you stick to them. You might want to display your plan on your wall and consider pdf calendar print outs which you can annotate. Plans ensure you cover all the material that you want to, track progress and stop you wasting time deciding what to cover each time you start work.
This may sound obvious, but the sooner you start the better. The thought of starting revision can be worse than actually doing it, so try to get past the thinking and start doing as early as you can. That said, if you have left it very late, don't let the panic stop you from doing anything at all. Getting your thoughts in order and starting to tick things off your list can be rewarding and help you carry on. Once you’ve started your routine, the thought of preparing for your assessments can become much easier.
Other tips to help you concentrate
Further to the above, if you are struggling to focus, we would advise you to consider the following tips and tricks to help:
- Keep your phone and other distractions away It can be all too easy to quickly check that Snapchat message or see who is liking your Instagram photo. Procrastination is one of the worst killers for effective revision – simply checking your phone is a downward spiral to hours of scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed. Putting your phone and other distractions out of the way – even in a drawer - will allow you to focus more clearly on those study notes; out of sight, out of mind.
- Be creative If you don’t enjoy revision, you’re not the only one. Why not make it more fun by using out-of-the-box techniques? Studies show that our memory is more effective at storing information when we are in a more positive mind set. If you consider yourself an ‘arty’ person, why not use these skills in creating amazing revision materials.
- Eat/Sleep/Revise/Repeat Revision is not all about pulling all-nighters. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during exam period is essential to help keep those essential facts in your head. Countless studies have been undertaken to prove that eating the right food and getting enough sleep makes all the difference to revise successful. More details can be found here.
- Find your dedicated study space This year it has been particularly easy to blur the line between work and play time, particularly when you are ‘working’ and ‘playing’ in the same room. Studies show that revising in the same space as you spend your leisure time can psychologically impact your revision. Creating a separate place to revise, whether that's at a desk in your bedroom or a space at the kitchen table. Creating a dedicated work environment may influence you to concentrate on your revision.
- Get a change of scenery Once you have found your study space, don’t be there 24/7 - Working for hours on end can lead to feeling like there is no life beyond your four room walls. Break up your revision by having a chance of scenery. If you’re in Cardiff, why not take a walk around Bute Park or Roath Lake. Getting out of your study space can give your brain a breather and leave you feeling more refreshed when you return to study. You might be surprised how much you absorb by taking a 15 minute break.
Struggling with your revision and assessments?
If you are struggling with your revision and you need some support in finding the right materials to help you, we would strongly advise you to reach out to your Personal Tutor and make them aware of the challenges you are facing. They may be able to signpost you to study resources, or to textbooks that can explain information from a different perspective.
If you have personal circumstances that are affecting your studies over a long period of time, we recommend that you seek advice from the Disability and Dyslexia Service, who may be able to put adjustments in place to help you study. For ongoing mental health issues, you can speak to the University’s Mental Health Advisers. Disability and Mental Health Advisers can support you and liaise with your academic school to ensure you receive any special provision that might help you. You could also get special provision in exams, such as breaks or extra time.
You might feel that you would benefit from contacting the Counselling and Wellbeing Service. They offer a range of ways to support you during your studies: one-to-one counselling and wellbeing appointments, a drop-in service, interactive workshops, groups and self-help resources.
If you feel that you cannot cope with your studies, you may want to consider taking a break from your studies, or requesting an extension. The options available to you may vary depending on your personal circumstances, but we can advise further if you feel that they become necessary courses of action. To safeguard your academic interests, you could consider:
In addition to the support provided by your Academic School, Cardiff University has an Academic Study Skills Team who are available to all students on Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught programmes. The Academic Study Skills Team can help you to develop your note taking, essay writing and time management skills to help you excel in your assessments. You may even find that, with their support, you are more able to avoid allegations of academic misconduct or poor academic practise throughout your degree.
The Academic Study Skills Team are contactable on SkillsCentre@cardiff.ac.uk.
Best of luck with your revision and upcoming assessments. If you would like further advice please:
Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410