One common misconception surrounding exam revision is that the more hours a student spends chained to their desk with their head in their books, the better their exam grades will be. Unfortunately, this hypothesis is flawed. Yes, revision does mean long hours, but those students who measure the quality of their exam preparation by the number of hours they spend at their desk are incentivising themselves to be unproductive.
After all, three hours at the desk does not mean 180 minutes of revision! A learner might have spent 40 percent of that time being unproductive or checking Facebook. Instead, students should focus on tasks, not time.
Introducing time management best practices, such as a revision study timetable, will further boost a student’s prospects of exam success by increasing revision productivity and reducing stress.
A study timetable builds revision around their down-time activities such as sports, television, playing video games and socialising. By prioritising the activities that they really want to do, students can then allocate periods of study around their social life, rather than the other way round. Elevate Education has found that by encouraging students to put their hobbies and sports into the timetable first, they end up with a revision framework that has a good work-life balance and is, crucially, realistic and achievable. Learners are much more likely to stick to the timetable, be focused and productive during the allocated revision periods and less prone to worry about their exam preparations.
It is worth pointing out that stress is not a bad thing. In fact, stress can be good. Believe it or not, Elevate Education’s desired outcome is not a stress-free year. Instead, it wants students to be able to recognise and manage their stress levels, harnessing stress to maximise performance.
To do so, the study skills provider uses what it calls a ‘spectrum of stress’. At one, the zero-stress end, you’ll find a student who struggles to do any work. After all, motivation is defined as a tension or stress that forces one to take action. At the other end of the spectrum is a student who is totally stressed, where the slightest hint of an unexpected hurdle sets off tears, emotional breakdowns and high levels of anxiety. Every student tends to find themselves somewhere on the spectrum and they will usually find that the position changes across the year.
Whilst it is usually the subject of self-help books aimed at removing it, stress does help us to perform at our best. Without stress, our concentration wanes, our focus and senses are muted and our motivation collapses. But with a little bit of stress, we find it easier to concentrate, our senses are heightened and, at our optimum point, we begin to produce adrenaline. Students should aim to keep their stress levels in this zone around exams and other assessments, which is why a study timetable is so valuable.
James Righetti is from study skills provider Elevate Education W: uk.elevateeducation.com