New Year, New Approach
January is typically a time for wanting to do things differently. As we usher in 2023, how about looking at a change in your approach to study?
This article is correct as at 10 January 2023.
We’ve all heard the ubiquitous quote about insanity meaning ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. It’s usually attributed to Albert Einstein, although in fact there is some dispute over whether he actually uttered those words.
But whoever did say them, it’s a notion that rings true for many of us. And January is typically a time for wanting to do things differently. As we usher in 2023, how about looking at a change in approach rather than proclaiming new resolutions, which all too often end up being broken anyway?
In other words, rather than making a vague, intangible resolution about ‘revising hard’, which is not measurable and, frankly, probably not achievable either, it may be worth focusing on the way you revise and making a shift in your approach or the various tools you use.
That could especially be the case if the techniques you’re using aren’t making the information ‘stick’ in your brain. If you feel you’d benefit from making some changes, and fancy shaking things up a bit, here are some ideas you could try:
Listening rather than reading
It may well be that you learn and remember most from hearing words rather than reading them. Revising information this way also gives you more versatility, since you don’t need to be at your desk, and you may find that this makes an energising change. For a literal breath of fresh air, record your notes on your phone and listen on the bus or while walking the dog or cooking a meal. You could even make use of our audio masterclasses – available for AF1, AF4, J02, R01, R02, R03, R04, and R05.
Of course, ultimately only you can sit your exam – no one else can do it for you. But you don’t have to do all the preparation completely alone. Find a study buddy, either online or one you meet in person, and work together. Ask around on social media if you can’t think of anyone to buddy up with immediately.
You can test each other, share your knowledge and discuss the exam material; it’s a really interactive way of working. And, after all, being able to explain a topic is probably the best guarantee that you understand it in detail yourself. It can give you a fresh angle on a subject and provide motivation; equally, you may learn a few new study techniques this way. As the old cliché goes, two heads are better than one. You could even set up a little study group if you felt it would be beneficial.
Make things stick with a sticky!
It’s a well-known tool, but you may not have done this yourself before. Have Post-it notes inscribed with key points on the fridge door, bedroom mirror and the like – anywhere, in fact, where you will see the information every day while you’re doing something else. You may well find that this is a useful way of making the information stay in your brain. Equally, you need to condense information into short, salient points to go on a small sticky note, which is a helpful exercise in itself.
Make the most of past papers
Completing and marking past or (even our very own) mock examination papers is one of the best ways of assessing how much information you have retained, so it’s a good idea to incorporate them into your revision plans at an early stage. This gives you the time to familiarise yourself with what is expected, and to make any necessary improvements to your knowledge of topics where you’re struggling. Do each paper twice if you possibly can, to make sure you’ve grasped the techniques second time round.
Make the most of the examination guides by gaining a good insight into the marking scheme and exam structure, as well as the way papers are typically worded. Try to identify the areas you need to brush up on, and where you may be losing marks for questions you have understood, but not answered in the way examiners are looking for.
Key things to look out for include whether the paper is divided into sections, types of questions to answer, and how much time you should be spending on each section of the examination. Finally, have you covered (and in sufficient detail) all the topics which tend to come up?
Give these matters some thought as we head further into 2023. You may just find that new approaches to study for the new year outdo well-intentioned but ultimately doomed resolutions hands down.