much to do so little time
Exams start in just a few weeks- are you ready?
With the exams just
a few weeks away every day counts. What matters now is how you
use your time. Use it correctly and you can make a real difference
to your grades. Let it slip through your hands and your grades
may go with it. The main thing at this stage is to make sure you
are working effectively. It's easy to sit in front of your books
(any books!) and let the days pass by. At least that way you can
convince your parents and probably yourself that you're doing
something. But how much have you actually learnt at the end of
each day? When time is precious it's not a question of keeping
busy- it's more a matter of making the time you do spend studying
to do first
The first thing
to do is to review the existing situation-just how bad (or good)
is it? How many days have you got left? (including days between
exams). How many subjects are you doing? How are you going to
allocate the time left? You probably drew up a revision timetable
a while ago- now is the time to check where you are.
Remember you don't need to spend an equal amount of time on each
subject or on each topic. What are the crucial things that need
to avoid when revising
over topics you already know well (tempting to do because it's
a comfort zone but probably not adding a lot of value)
Missing out the topics you hate (these may be important!)
Writing out the textbook- easy to do but tends not to engage
you should do
you can, talk to your teachers about the areas you personally
need to focus on; involve them in scheduling your work
Try to relate your revision to past paper questions. You
need to think how a particular topic is likely to be assessed
in the exam.
Make sure your revision is active: read something, then
test yourself. Try and make an essay plan or mind map or reorganise
your notes. Get someone to test you to see how much progress you
means precisely that: re- vision - looking at things again. Don't
try and learn lots and lots of new material- there isn't time.
Don't simply go over what you know already, try to look at things
differently, organise your material in a new way and see how you
would answer questions now compared to when you first did them.
When you look at your past work you'll almost certainly realise
how much better you are now than you were then. ( I hope so!).
This is obviously
quite a stressful time. Recognise that but don't let it get to
you. Accept the fact you won't know everything by the time of
the exam - no-one ever does. Don't make yourself miserable by
thinking of all the things you don't know- you don't need to know
everything to get an grade A. What you are trying to do in the
time left is plug any gaps and focus on developing your techniques.
Remember that it is not just what you know but how you use it;
look over old answers and see what you did well and what you could
improve. Look for the appropriate skills. Make life easier for
yourself when revising by setting aside a suitable number of hours.
Get up early. It's easy to delay getting up because you know once
you do you'll have to start work but if you lie in every day you
are losing valuable hours. Similarly don't forget the weekends-
they are for working too (sorry about that). At the same time,
realise that trying to work solidly for four or five hours won't
work. You will lose concentration. Set yourself 40-50 minute study
sessions with something to do in each one. E.g. revise topic A
and make notes or revise topic B and produce an essay plan on
this from a past paper. By the end of the day you need to have
produced a series of things that give you a real sense of achievement.
Try to make sure you have somewhere you can work. In front of
the tv is probably not the best! If you have music on make sure
it is not distracting. Also give yourself goals e.g. stop at 8pm
for an hour to watch X on tv; work Monday to Thursday nights and
go out Friday. Think about studying with someone else for some
of the time. That way you can test each other. Why not set aside
some time every couple of days to work together on specific topics
or discuss past questions?
for the exam
The next few weeks
certainly won't be easy but you could find they are some of your
most productive. You have one or two years study behind you; now
is the time to really build on this and do yourself justice. You
can take control of the situation and put yourself in a much stronger
position with a bit of planning. You won't always stick to your
plan. You will have bad days as well as good. You will feel short
of time. But even so an organised approach can really help you
to get on top of things, to use your knowledge more effectively
and get you the grades you want.
And don't forget
how important exam room performance is. I have often found as
an examiner that the solid performers are the ones who get the
higher grades. They may not dazzle on any one question but they
don't miss out parts of questions, they finish the paper and they
think about the skills they have to demonstrate for each part
of the exam. They may or may not know as much as some others but
they know how to use their ideas effectively given the constraints
and challenges of the examination system. So make sure as part
of your revision you know the exact format of the exams and the
way in which your answers will be marked. Good luck.
Director of Studies , d'Overbroeck's College, Oxford
Principal Examiner A2 Business Studies.