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Got umpteen re-sits planned?

Got umpteen re-sits planned?

Written by Lysette Offley

You might be very surprised by the number of ‘phone calls I get from people who tell me they’ve taken and failed the same exam up to 5 times. You might be even more surprised to hear what they say next, which is usually, “But only by a few points each time!”

As if that makes it okay!

It staggers me that people are prepared to put themselves through that inconvenience and stress, over and over – always getting the same miserable result.

You’ve heard it said that if you do the same thing again and again, you can expect to get the same result again and again. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. Of course, the reason they’re not passing the exam is because they don’t have a good revision strategy. Instead of wasting time re-sitting the exam, taking the time off work to do so and, what’s more, paying the exam fees each time, why not put your energy into finding out and adopting what revision strategies successful people use?

So what are the revision strategies of successful people?

Well, they pay attention to the 3 keys to learning. They know that they need to:

  1. Spend enough time with the information for their brain to make a pattern of it and send it to their long-term memory.
  2. Make brain-friendly notes, which they can still ‘see’ in their mind when they close their eyes.
  3. Test, on a regular basis, the revision they’ve already learnt.

There is no shortcut to learning. You have to do the learning yourself. There are, of course, quick and effective ways of doing this, but you’re the one who has to do it.

Different people will make different sorts of notes. There’s no right or wrong way. All that matters is the style of notes that you make, works for you. While you’re making those notes, you’re automatically spending time with the information – allowing it to sink in to your long-term memory. You’ve got to actively manipulate that information in order for your brain to make a pattern of it, in other words for you to ‘get your head round it’.

There’s no one else can do this for you. Imagine somebody else taking your driving lessons, getting lots of practice in, driving in real situations on public roads, preparing for the driving test, being familiar with what the car will do and how it works – only for that person to then jump out of the car, and for you to climb in, behind the wheel, as soon as the driving test begins!

You would have done none of the preparation for the test. Maybe you’ve got a vague idea of what the car will do for you and an even vaguer idea of what to do with the various pedals, levers, dials and switches…

But you can just imagine what will happen, can’t you? You’re going to make an absolute botch-up of the test. You’ve not put the time in to get familiar enough with driving for it to become automatic and easy.

I know you wouldn’t dream of being so ill-prepared for a driving test, because it’s so obvious that you’re the one who has to put the time in. But isn’t it funny that when it comes to taking exams, we look for all sorts of ways of getting out of doing the requisite work!

I reckon, the best way to deal with any task that’s a little intimidating, is to roll your sleeves up, and face the monster head on! It helps enormously to organise yourself sensibly, and also bite off a little chunk of information at a time. That’s the way to make good solid progress. And it feels really great when you begin to achieve little successes, one after the other.

What do you need to bear in mind when making revision notes? Well, remember that the brain processes images 60 000 times faster than text, so make sure you make notes that are so visually strong, that you can still ‘see’ them in your mind, when you close your eyes. Use colour to group similar ideas together and to separate them from other ideas. Use bullet points, numbered lists, pattern, space, diagrams, charts, pictures…

So what’s the message here?

Don’t approach your revision expecting to fail 5 times. Instead find out what successful people are doing to pass exams easily – and do what they do.

Eh voilà! You’ll pass your exams too.

First time.