Revision Tips for When Learning Gets Hard
What’s my biggest study tip? Stay organised.
As a first-year student in the Graduate Accelerated year of BVetMed, this means two things: 1) that all content taught in the first two years of the five-year veterinary course is smushed into one year; and 2) to be able to keep up with all that content means I have to be insanely organised. Which, let me tell you, is no small feat. In just the last term and a half, I have learned that being in vet school (or any uni course, really) means there is so much to learn, in so little time, and if you don’t stay organised and have a good study schedule, your brain will short-circuit and we quickly spiral into panic mode. Which is, honestly, not great for overall performance in school.
Here are some things that I’ve learned that work for me. You might be in secondary school, college, or university – wherever you are, you’re probably learning something, and revision becomes so important. Everyone learns differently, so maybe some things won’t be helpful to you, but I’m hoping at least one tip might help you and your studying!
My Revision Table
This might actually be the secret to how I haven’t completely given up from overwhelming stress yet. Putting all my revision for the term in a nice, organised table really takes the pressure off my brain. Not to mention, it is extremely satisfying when you get to check it off the list.
Here’s what my table looks like:
(More organisation tips: as you can see on the very left of the picture, I have every subject in which I put my lecture notes, and my “Term 2” section is where I put in my weekly lecture plan and this revision table.)
This is what I do after I’ve watched all my lectures for the week. While I appreciate online lectures for their flexibility in scheduling, I’ve found it extremely easy to fall into a stupor after having stared at my screen for five hours already. And after I’ve finished a lecture, sometimes I think to myself, “What have I even learned?”
Going back and reviewing lecture notes and content is a great start to revision and understanding the content. The best way for me is to reorganise the lecture in my own context: creating a concept map, mind map, summary table – anything that forces me to think about the content from different perspectives has exponentially increased both my retention and understanding of the material.
Here are some examples of my concept maps! They’re messy, but they work for me. Everyone’s maps will look differently; do what works for you.
After I’ve gone over the lectures, I find a helpful second review is making review questions. This is yet another way to reorganise the lecture material from a different perspective. I go through each lecture and type up a question – for everything. This works for me, but it may be excessive to other students (no big deal). I find it not only forces me to review the lecture again, but also thinking about how to test yourself makes you realise whether or not you understand it enough to both ask and answer the question. I like to just type out my questions in a list, but flashcards are another great way to do this.
And what do you do with those review questions? You guessed it: review them!
This is probably what I hate most about revising, because it is the hardest part. But entirely necessary. The first time through, I do my best to answer the question without peeking at the lecture, but of course I barely know anything at that point, so I have the lecture next to me to check my answers. Recall is definitely the hardest part of revision. However, it definitely gets easier the more times you do it! (and you guessed it – the later parts of my exam revision consist of going back through the same review questions!) If you can come up with answers to your review questions, you will have no problem coming up with those answers during the actual exam.
This way of organisation has made sure I’ve gone over every lecture at least three times in different ways before the exam. Repetition really does wonders for retention and understanding, and this is what gets us through those hard exams!
This is just what has worked for me, but every student is different! What study tips do you have? Feel free to comment below!