Okay, disclaimer time. I’m in no means a genius, and this post won’t get you straight A’s in whatever exams you’re sitting. However, with hard work and a well-structured study plan you can reach your full potential, and I hope to help you make a great study plan and introduce you to some study techniques you may not yet have tried.
I’m currently a first year Law LLB student at the University of Stirling. Previously, I went through the Northern Irish education system, meaning I sat GCSEs, AS-Levels, and A2-Levels.
My A-Levels were the toughest thing I have ever had to go through. I really struggled with the pressure, but I did get through it! The best advice I can give you is to work consistently throughout the academic year (however, if you have left everything to the last minute don’t panic – with some hard work you can do it).
So, what’s the best way to study?
My psychology teacher used to (quite frequently) tell us that the only way to pass your exams is “repetition, repetition, repetition”. It’s a good idea to make three sets of notes throughout the academic year – the first ones should be highly detailed, with all the essential information that you need from that subject, the second should be less detailed with short and concise sections on each key topic for that subject, and the third set of notes should be flashcards with key words that jog your memory for each topic.
If you complete these three sets of notes, you will have a good grasp of the subject. The added bonus is that if you get to the flashcard stage and realise you’re shaky on a topic, you can refer back to your first or second stage of notes to refresh your memory.
For my first stage of highly detailed notes, I like to used a notebook and work chronologically through the topics of the subject. I personally find revising boring and very tedious, so I like to use diagrams and colours wherever I can to make my notes look a little less boring.
For my second set of notes, I like to make a poster per topic, with the specification for the subject to tick it off as I learn it, so I would have maybe 6 or 7 posters for each subject. I find that this is a great way to break the information down, and make key word associations.
Lastly, I like to use study cards / flash cards to write the heading of a topic, and then a few words to summarise the most important information. Flashcards also fit into pockets and bags, so it’s great for on the go revision! Plus, if you can’t remember an adequate amount of information when you read the key words, it’s a sure sign that you need to go back to your more detailed notes and read over them again.
When studying, don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat well (healthy snacks rather than sugary ones, filling meals etc.), and plan ahead so you have plenty of time to learn all the material while also taking regular breaks.
If you’re currently studying for exams, best of luck!
Until next time, Dani x