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Revision tips from expert tutors

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Studying online or revising for your exam? The Academic Support Team have shared their tips and advice.

Revising for your exam can be a long process. While you are working towards the dreaded exam date, you may struggle with your motivation, and confidence while searching for any opportunity to procrastinate rather than study. It is common to feel overwhelmed or stressed when it comes to revising for an exam or learning new material, especially when studying online. However, with advice from our expert tutors in the Academic Support Team, you will start to feel much more confident about your exam.

Let’s take a closer look …

Effective revision requires planning and strict discipline

Allow yourself on average a minimum of four weeks or more to revise, and then plan how many hours you will commit to revision a week. A useful approach would be to look at the number of questions in the exam kit and divide them by the number of weeks that you plan to revise.

If you have 200 questions in the exam kit, it means you could do 50 questions on average a week (200 questions over four weeks). This is just a guide - the bottom line is you need to have some sort of plan for your revision that you follow consistently.

Speech marks

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Active revision versus passive revision

Reading your study manuals from back to front and front to back many times without revision is an ineffective way to prepare for the exam. This is called ‘passive revision.’ Technical knowledge is just the starting point.

The real exam will test you on how you apply the technical knowledge to different scenarios presented in the form of exam questions. As such, just reading through your materials is not the best way to revise.

The most effective way to revise is through question practice no matter how hard the questions might be. This can be considered as ‘active revision.’ The more you can engage your brain in question practice, the better you will remember things and then the better you become more accustomed to exam-style questions.

Question practice is interactive and will help to highlight knowledge gaps in the syllabus that you may have. So, don’t shy away from questions! Attempt practice questions under timed conditions during revision. A good rule of thumb is to allocate 1.8 minutes per mark. So, for a 20-mark question, aim to spend 36 minutes. Time is a precious resource that you can’t afford to throw away in an exam.

Manage your time effectively

Avoid study sessions that are too long. The human brain can only concentrate for a certain period, so revision sessions for 1-2 hours are much more effective than sitting down to study for four hours.

Exercise regularly

Physical exercise stimulates the brain, improving your concentration levels and elevating your mood. Ultimately, this can reduce exam-related stress. So, when you sit down to study and feel that you can’t concentrate, try to partake in some physical activity - go for a run, walk or do some yoga so that you can clear your brain and concentrate better.

Topic/question spotting

The biggest factor behind exam anxiety is not knowing what questions or topics will come up. As a result, many learners fall into the habit of topic or question-spotting. This is a very dangerous activity when it comes to revising!

Topic spotting is only attempting to revise the topics or questions that you find easier, thus potentially giving yourself a false sense of security. You need to cover the whole syllabus, including (if not especially) the difficult topics.

Adopt the ‘if it is in the syllabus, it can be tested’ attitude. For students sitting exams such as the CIMA Objective papers, the examiner can easily test every topic that is in the syllabus. Therefore, you want to aim to be in a position where you feel confident in each area.

Use mnemonic devices

During your revision phase, use active tools like mnemonics, or memory devices, which will help you recall larger pieces of information. Form lists including characteristics, steps, stages, parts etc.

For example, CLUMP can be used to remember Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions - (Collectivism/individualism, Long-term orientation, Uncertainty avoidance, Masculinity/femininity, Power distance).

The night before the exam

It is easy for learners to fuel the ‘exam eve’ with caffeinated drinks to the detriment of a good night's sleep. If you haven’t covered the syllabus, trying to do it all overnight is as impractical as it is dangerous. Getting little sleep can increase your levels of anxiety, and you will also want to feel refreshed and ready to sit the exam in the morning.

Instead, plan your revision, look over the last bits of knowledge gaps or trickier topics, and get enough sleep the night before. Aim to wake up the next morning earlier, remember to eat breakfast and have some water. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Looking for more support?

If you are enrolled on a course with us, you are able to contact the Academic Support Team via your MyKaplan. You can email, live chat or request a call back from our expert tutors who can support you with any of those trickier topics.

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