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In-person and on-campus exams / open-book and at-home exams (part 2) – revision  

In-person and on-campus exams / open-book and at-home exams (part 2) – revision  

Whether you’re writing an open-book at-home exam or whether you’re sitting in in-person somewhere on campus, revision is crucial to a good performance.  

You might think: “I just need to re-read notes, highlight specific sections and quotes, colour-code everything and then I’ll remember it… revision done!”    

Re-reading and highlighting are passive revision techniques. They allow you to become familiar with material, but do not help with understanding and recalling it. Here are some tips to help you with your understanding and recall.  

  • Make new summaries of modules/topics/concepts, either distilling the ones you have or maybe linking to other parts of the course or other courses.   
  • Work on sample questions prepared by your lecturers. But do not spend all your time on these – it is unlikely that you will be given the same questions in the exam itself.   
  • If your exam is essay-based, make essay plans for potential topics. Using colourful mind maps may make the information more likely to stay in your memory. Do not only focus on this: you may panic if unexpected questions come up that you cannot adjust your existing essays to fit.  
  • Test yourself. This could be using flashcards, virtual study group sessions, short questions or writing summary notes from memory. Test yourself on the material more than once, with time in between.   
  • Focus your time and efforts on the material you find more difficult or feel less confident about.   
  • Try completing the exam within the time limit. If there are past papers that you can access, find a quiet space, grab a bottle of water and try completing the paper as if you were in an actual exam. This way you’ll be able to see how much time you need per essay question, for example, and will be able to plan your time more effectively during the exam.   

Revision is not all about the study activities you do, though. You need to be able to concentrate during your study periods and manage your time effectively. Think about where you study best – is it in your bedroom or kitchen, or perhaps the library or a café? Choosing an appropriate study space can really boost your productivity.
There are also several things that you can do in order to make your revision as effective as possible:  

  • Draw up a revision plan (by hand, in a diary, on an Outlook Calendar, etc.) for how long you will revise and what you will revise. Do not plan to study all the time. Schedule time for relaxation, sleep, fun, as well as any urgent things that may come up. Aim to break your revision into shorter, focused spells, rather than endless hours that will tire and demotivate you.   
  • Introduce variety. Instead of working a whole day on topic A, start to work on topic A in the morning, have a break, change to topic B, break, and so on. Similarly, do not spend entire days just re-writing notes or just doing past papers. This can get boring and make you lose concentration. Try doing summary notes in the morning and virtual study groups later, for example.   
  • Give yourself time to revise things more than once, as this can help with long term memory and allow you to recall information more easily in the exam hall.   


Further resources are available:  

Study Hub Learning Resources has advice on Exams and Time management.  

There is also advice on preparing for, revising and sitting exams in Exam Bootcamp (a self-enroll course in Learn Ultra ). 



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