If you simply haven’t had the time or will to study for your modules prior to the exam, this is possibly the best guide you have to make up for lost time and still manage to ace your exams!
It certainly is a common thing, especially during undergraduate study that exams are coming so fast, you forget to revise for one, or lose the will to do so seeing as you have numerous other things to do!
Lets explore the quickest way to study for your exams, and potential do so in under 24 hours!
Do Your Planning First!
The most important thing when it comes to studying for a subject in time restricted circumstances is, you MUST know what you need to study.
You must go through your entire module and list all the different topics that come up. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you should continue this process by making resources for each topic to revise from!
This will save you time in the long run since you won’t have to mess around watching youtube videos or flickign through textbooks.
If your entire module only requires one textbook, this process of collating resources and topics is already done for you, congratulations!
If however you have multiple textbooks, youtube videos and websites to visit, this makes everything slightly harder.
Collating your resources can be as easy as copy pasting all your notes into one massive word document, or it can be as complicated as going through each lecture slide and textbook, and putting the best resources together to revise from.
Do whichever takes the least time, but spend extra time ensuring that every piece of information you might need for the exam, appears somewhere in your collated resources.
Don’t spend more than 2 – 3 hours doing this!
Know which percentage of content you should remember!
The second most important tip to revising for exams is to know exactly what you need to know!
Is it better to know 90% of the material in only 10% of detail, or to know 10% of the material in 90% of detail?
This is the classic depth vs breadth of knowledge debate.
If greatly depends on what type of exam you are having.
If you have a written exam
This can include essays, short answer format questions, or any writing based assiginment.
The ideal amount of knowledge would be something resembling a small breadth (entire span of knowledge) and a large depth!
This is because in essays and written exams, you often get to choose your own essay questions, or the exam gives you a choice of maybe 5.
Chances are, the 10% of things that you know REALLY well will help you write a solid essay.
If however you know 90% of the material, but your understanding is really poor, you can easily pick an essay title, but you will struggle to write a good essay.
It is always better to know more about 1 thing, than know little about everything when the exam is essay based!
If you have an MCQ multiple choice exam
Here, it is much better to know a little about everything!
MCQ’s are the ideal exam to have since you don’t necessarily need to know the right answer immediately, but having shallow knowledge of everything will allow you to pick the right answer by a process of elimination.
It is always better to know a little of everything than to know only 1 thing really well, when it comes to MCQ based exams!
See if there are already premade cheat sheets to revise from!
Now that you have establised all the topics you must learn, and to what detail, it’s time to start learning!
It’s important to note, revising straight from textbooks or lecture material can often lengthen your study time greatly because much of the information will be quite irrelevant to the exam!
This is why it’s such a good idea to contact any friends or look online for revision notes regarding a particular topic. Khan academy is probably the best website for finding relevant and TO-THE-POINT resources for most topics.
They are however still growing their resource bank and a lot of topics and university level content isn’t available yet on their platform.
In this case, skim through your lecture notes, textbooks, or your own notes, and create even more condensed and collated notes to memorise.
This will essentially act as your knowledge base so everything you want to remember, you must include in this document!
Put everything in a neat microsoft word file or onenote file so you can commit it to memory.
It should resemble a cheat sheet of lecture notes that you can revise from.
Something looking like our own Medical Lecture Notes for medicine and biomedical students!
If you are a health or bio science student, that resource can be extremely useful for time restricted revision!
Alternatively, you can check out a new website called UCAT Tools which aims to provide free revision resources for medical students!
Consider taking a break, you deserve it by now!
Write your own questions to test yourself!
The only way you will know that you have memorised anything is by testing yourself.
So far, all we have done is collate information and plan our stategy.
Now we must actually learn some content!
This is believe it or not the easist part. Read the content that you have made, and everytime you see something that’s worth remembering, write a question about it.
It can be the simplest question about the simplest things! The main point its to rejog your memory about something you have read before!
for example, lets look at something you might write a question about if a lecturer says the following:
“In general, in the TCA cycle, an organism generates energy via the oxidation of acetate generated from either carbohydrate or protein or lipid using terminal electron accepter.“
There are at least 3 questions you can ask from that statement alone!
Here are some question examples and what your answers should be:
What is the purpose of the TCA cycle? – To generate energy for an organism
What are the molecules that are used to generate the energy? – Either carbohydrate or protein or lipids
What is a key component of the process? – Oxidation of acetate and the use of terminal electron acceptor
Produce diagrammatic representations of your textbook’s information
Now that you have been through all your resources and written questions, you should ideally try and reconsolidate all that information by creating flow diagrams, mind-maps, and other diagrammatic representations of your notes!
Do this without looking at your original notes! In essence, try and do this from memory to prove to yourself that you understand the topics, and can make meaningful connections between them!
Diagrams are an excellent way to prove to yourself that you understand a topic. They require you to have a real grasp of a topic to produce a solid mindmap.
Look back at your original notes to see if there is anything you missed. Close your notes and add this to the mind map. Do this however many times, as long as your mind map is complete, and you are ocnfident you can redraw it from memory.
The purpose of this exercise is to help reconsolidate the mateiral in yourt head, and also help your brain make a better connection with the topics.
diagrams are proven to help aid your recall by over 20%.
Take advantage of them!
Go and Ace That Exam!
hopefully you have comited enough content to memory, so all that is left is to ace your exam. Remember, you didn’t do all this work and write all these resources for nothing!
Quiz yourself on the questions you wrote just before your exam so the answers are fresh in your head.
Try your best, and don’t forget, it isn’t exams that define your future, it’s how you define your future that determines how you define your future!
Now go forth, and aim high!