Trying to revise for your exams in a week is a nerve-wracking process. While you may find yourself with a short revision period due to personal circumstances, some of us will readily admit to not prioritizing our academic pursuits. Although I would never recommend attempting to revise for your exams in a week each time, the techniques below act as simple get out clauses if you are facing a seven-day cramming session.
Succinct revision books
Few feelings are more terrifying than staring down the barrel of a one-week revision timetable while there’s a mountain-sized textbook sat on your lap. Fortunately, students and lecturers worldwide have cottoned onto this. Subsequently, they’ve produced succinct revision books.
As a medical student, I’ve turned to texts such as Mind Maps for Medical Students, and miniature versions of the Oxford Handbooks. Naturally, I’m not aware of what is out there for each niche. But, I do have a useful suggestion.
Head to your country’s version of Amazon, look to see which books rank the highest in your educational niche and select any concise revision guide that pops out.
Naturally, if you’re to successfully revise in a week using this method, you’ll need to have decent background knowledge of former endeavors. With that said, if you’re struggling you may be able to maximize your efforts by focusing on weak areas. Or, by reading around areas, you don’t fully understand.
If you went to the effort of making flash cards for previous exams, now’s the time to dig them out. Much like those succinct revision books I mentioned above, they direct you towards the pertinent information that’s likely to appear in your exam.
No flash cards at hand? Don’t worry. You have a couple of options here. Again, Amazon is an excellent flashcards resource.
I wouldn’t recommend starting to make them if you have just one week to go before your exam. You may end up spending too much time consolidating a few topics instead of tackling most of them. Once your exam is over, though, you can start making them for the future. Doing so helps you compact information as you go along and prepares you for your next one-week revision session.
Thanks to Spotify and Apple, we’re now living in a world of educational podcasts. If you commute, have a lot of chores to do, or you fancy a change from your usual shower playlist, study podcasts should become your new best friend.
Again, speaking from the perspective of someone who’s at medical school, pick your podcasts carefully. While subjects such as history and literature are standard across the board, areas such as medicine and law are not. Personally, I’ve found having a decent background in the way UK practitioners approach to medicine allows me to use American podcasts efficiently. But, if you’re in the first year of your degree, you may struggle on this front.
As a side note, I’ve previously written about how you can engage in self-care as a student. One of my points focused on trying something new to boost the dopamine levels in your brain. If you’re taking a revision break, and I highly recommend you do, podcasts are also an excellent source of fresh and fun information.
The fact that YouTube is now a billion-dollar industry is no secret. Everyone from teenagers through to pensioners is benefiting from the YouTuber effect, and educators are doing the same.
From those offering MOOCs to lecturers who are passionate about their subjects, there’s no shortage of YouTube revision videos. If you’re sick of writing, reading, or listening, watching can act as a welcome last-minute studying break.
A word of caution, though; check out the credentials of the person you’re relying on. YouTube is also a fantastic platform for those who are passionate about their cause, which means the information you’re absorbing isn’t always conducive to your study area. Head towards well-known experts and lecturers/professors from universities with high reputations to avoid such perils.
Focusing on your problem areas only
When you’re reaching the 11th hour on the studying front, going over the topics you’re shit hot at is redundant. All you’ll gain is a big ego boost and a false sense of security.
Instead, write a list of the areas that you struggle with, but you know you’re still capable of tackling. I’m making the ‘capable of tackling’ distinction, as few people can absorb all topics with ease. For example, I know I suck at biomechanics, so if I only have a week left to study I won’t flog that particular dead horse.
As an alternative, I turn to topics that I’m not great at due to slight struggles, a lack of excellent background knowledge, or the fact that I skipped that particular lecture. If you do find yourself going over the same point several times in a row without boosting your knowledge, abandon it and move on. Recognizing that you can dedicate precious minutes elsewhere will serve you well when you’re sat in front of that exam paper.
Finally, my personal favorite way to revise for your exams in a week: practice questions. All it takes is a quick Google search, and you’ll soon find a bank that’s appropriate for your needs.
Even better still, you can approach your lecturers/teachers and ask them for past papers. Not all of them are amenable to handing old work over, but it’s worth a shot.
Or, you can head for quiz apps. At the moment, I am using one called Osmosis to prepare for my winter medical exam tomorrow morning. It’s working a treat.
Using practice questions allows you to get into the exam ready mindset, learn new facts on the fly, and highlight the areas where you’re struggling. Plus, you’ll identify any topics you thought you were terrific at, but you actually need more practice.
Ideally, you won’t try to revise for your exams in a week at all. However, if circumstances do lead to last-minute revision techniques, all of the ones I’ve listed will work a treat. On that note, if you have any suggestions of your own, throw them into the comments.
A little self-promotion side-note: I now sell a one-week to revision success printable via Etsy, you can check it out here.