16 April 2014

Revision Tips

So exam season is upon us and revising with a chronic illness is 10 times harder than it should be. I have by no means found the perfect way to revise but I've made it through GCSEs, A levels and am in my third year at uni so I thought I'd make a list of a few of the things I find helpful and that have been recommended to me. 

Revision tips for chronic illness
(Check out my amazing mice drawings, should have done art...or maybe not)

1. Try not to stress out too much

I know this is difficult and exams are horrific and I still tend to get myself worked up about them but as my mum tells me every time. What's the worst that could happen? You fail and have to re sit? Not really the end of the world is it. No need to make yourself more ill.

2. Don't forget to eat/drink

I'm really bad for spending all day in my room revising and forgetting to come out for brain fuel or doing the complete opposite and just eating crap all day which isn't great for brain power or my body. Exams are clearly an excuse to eat crap and not feel guilty but you don't want to make yourself ill as well. Make sure to have a decent lunch or dinner and remember to stock up on quick easy foods for when you're on a roll.

3. Take breaks

Breaks are really important and something I'm really bad at forgetting. I tend to do work non stop for an hour or two and then burn out. Taking breaks means I can keep going longer and actually remember what I was doing. You can time your breaks with food times so you get a break and brain fuel. Don't forget to get up and move as well. I've lost count of the amount of times I've sat in a "comfy" position for and hour or more and not shifted and then been in horrific pain or dislocated something when I finally tried to move. 

4. Don't push yourself

Over doing it will only set you back the next day so try to pace yourself. Pacing really isn't my strong point but I am trying. If you wake up and you feel awful but were planning on revising have a cuppa, take your meds and then maybe read through some stuff and take a nap and then see how you feel. Trying to blast it when you are in loads of pain or cant concentrate won't help as you wont take any of it in. There is no point pushing yourself and making yourself even more ill. 

5. Make a schedule

Write down when you want to revise what so that you don't miss any topics. However, don't beat yourself up if you can't stick to it. Be flexible. Feel ill? shift things around to fit in a nap or a warm bath. It can just be there to let you know what you need to do.

6. Make sure you get enough sleep

There is no point staying up revising in the early hours of the morning if you are going to be too exhausted to do work the next day or if you're going to feel worse due to exhaustion. Getting rest is just as important as revision. However I work better in the evenings so I tend to have a lie in but work a bit later in the evening.

7. Break it down into sections

I tend to split my files/modules up into the different topics and then work on one at a time. The different topics can also be split into smaller more manageable sections. This will make it easier to remember instead of trying to take in massive chunks of knowledge.

8. Make Bullet points

Bullet points are so much easier to take in and remember. I like to read a chapter of a book or through my notes and then make bullet points of the main points. Key facts are always a great starting point.

9. Find out the style of exam. 

Most of mine tend to be essay questions so I tend to write essay plans for the different topics of everything I would want to include. This makes it easier for me to structure my essays in the exam and slightly easier to remember all the main points I want to write about.

10. Mind maps

Or a spider diagram or whatever else you call them are easily the best revision tool. You can get loads of info on them and its easy to take it in and link everything together. I end up with so many stuck around my room, all in pretty colours obviously, so I can look at them all the time.

11. Coloured pens/post its/ flash cards

These are a must. Coloured pens are great for key words and making things stick out and also making my notes look pretty because that's obviously important. Post its are great for reminders on things you need to look up or temporary bookmarks and for sticking around your room with key words on. Flash cards are great for writing short pieces of important information on and testing yourself.

12. Past paper questions

If you can get your hands on past paper questions they are great for learning the style of question you are going to be asked and what kind of topics you might be questioned on. They also help you know what kind of depth you need to go into. 

13. Diagrams

Making diagrams or tables are a great way to learn information. Our lecturers always tell us to draw diagrams to include in our essay questions in the exams. If you can learn the diagram and reproduce it in the exam it will jog your memory on the extra info you need to include.

14. Research

Don't quite understand a topic the way its been taught to you? Take to the internet. I know wiki can't always be reliable but it explains things in more basic terms and you can use their references to find more info. Google scholar is good for papers on the topic which also means if you can find out more info and current research to back up your exam questions you'll get a better mark

15. Be comfy

I always got told to never revise in bed but there are some days where sitting at my desk is too painful. Revising in bed is comfy and its better that not doing any or hurting myself at my desk. I make sure I prop myself up with loads of cushions and I have a wedge cushion and a laptop tray which is also great for leaning on when writing. Revise wherever you are comfortable as you wont be able to concentrate if you aren't comfy.

I hope this helped a bit. Most of all don't stress. It will all be fine.

Would love to hear any of your tips?

Now I should probably get back to the revision that is spread out in front of me.

Good luck


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