International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Survival Revision Skills: 9 steps to make you master time management

Survival Revision Skills: 9 tips to make you learn faster than a foam absorbing water
Written By: Alireza Parandeh

Every year, Sophie promises herself that she will definitely stick to a proper study plan, goes to every class, finish tutorials on time and will go through all of the textbooks so that she can get a 1:1 in every module and she will prioritise her studies above everything else. She makes herself this promise, because she knows, how hard it was going through the revision period last year, when she wasn't prepared for her exams.

Now the reality is, this doesn't happen most of the time. If you think like Sophie, that you're going to stick to the plan throughout a whole year, there is usually a high chance that something, sometime, somewhere along the way in your student life will distract you from your study plans throughout the academic year. Just think of how many people make themselves promises and new year resolutions and don't stick to their plans. This in itself is a challenge and requires another post to focus on. But, what I'm aiming here to teach you in this post is ways to manage your LIMITED time that you only have, when you find yourself in a situation where deadlines and exam dates are approaching with the speed of light.

Before we start, I wanted to let you know some of the tips mentioned below have been taken from my hardcore time management methods I developed throughout the last three years of my student life. These could be a bit harsh doing them the first time, but if are really running short on time and exams are approaching fast for you, you really need to learn to follow these tips as these will really hone your time management skills.

Lots of my friends ask me how do I manage my time, manage an engineering degree while maintaining an active role in society committees, pursuing my hobbies all at the same time. My answer are these 9 tips I want to share with you here. This is the method I've designed for myself and at times it has earned me 1:1 in modules I wasn't very prepared for prior to its examination date. What I can promise you is that if you can learn to follow these tips, you can expand the knowledge and skills to long term plans that could actually work for you. Time management is a very precious skill, not just at University but at workplace where sometimes you might need to learn something super quick in order to finish a project on time. You need to plan your revision like you plan a high stake project. It's all about the project management. But, instead of managing people and money as resources, you are managing your energy and time as resources in order to gain knowledge as a exchange. The benefit and money coming in, is the long or short term knowledge you learn in a time-span of a project.

Just like any project, the more time you have the better the results would be. The fundamental tip is that you need to start your revision as early as possible, you need to manage your time as much as you can and you need to think and rethink continuously what should you allocate your time to most.

So whenever you feel ready, start reading below:

The 9 Survival Revision Tricks for students with hard degrees or limited time:

1. Make a Plan - Failing to Plan is Planning to fail
Do you know why students get stressed when exams are approaching?

The main reason is they think they don't have time to revise, they panic and get stressed because of that. They start studying but do it here and there, at some points they marathon through and the next day they don't do anything. And, when there are 2-3 days left to the exams, they realise they definitely don't have enough time to study and they super panic.

If you really want to not get stressed near exam period, Do this one thing before doing anything else. Before even starting your revision. MAKE A PLAN!

What Do I mean by a plan?
Put a calendar in front of you. First thing to do, mark your deadlines and exams on it.
Then count how many days you have left to deadline and exam. This time is everything you have. Your money, your precious resources for your project to be successful. So you need to plan to use it as much as you can.
When you do that, you will know how exactly you're going to spend it each day and how much time you will have if you spend it they way you have planned. And, because of that, because of this knowledge of knowing you can manage to finish your revision on time, you will not get stressed anymore.

Here is a plan I've made as an example for my revision:

There is an old saying: "Failing to plan, is planning to fail" which is very true. When you don't plan, you get stressed, you don't manage your time well, and you don't perform at your best.

But remember this, Your plan can't remain the same. I'll let you know more in the next tips why.

2. Write down the number of components you need to revise per module
The next step for you to do is to write down every component of your modules, your to do tasks in overall.
How many lectures do you have to revise? How many tutorials do you need to do? How many past papers do you need to study?

Everything! Put them down on a paper. Think of these numbers as pieces of a big cake that you have to eat in a short amount of time!  You know each piece you eat, it gives you more energy to eat more and more motivation to finish all the cake. Having a big cake divided into big piece and eating it piece by piece, psychologically speaking, gives you motivation to want to finish it as sooner as possible.

You just don't approach your revision as whole! You can't build a house immediately, you need to build it block by block. You divide big tasks into small pieces and small pieces into even smaller pieces and then you ONLY FOCUS on the smallest piece, you finish it and then you go to the next piece.

3. Allocate in the same way you would cut a cake for your friends
You have certain number of days before your exams to finish revising your module. You know or expect some lessons to be harder than the rest. So, allocate accordingly when you planning your revision calendar.

4. Find out what study method makes you learn faster
Different methods works different for different people. Try to learn more about yourself and how you learn best. Then use a method that works for you the best in order to learn as much as you can.

These are different methods you can revise for a module:

  • You study all the lecture notes very throughly until you digest everything, then you go and study the tutorials one by one, referencing back to the lecture notes and additional notes when needed. Finally, you study the past papers.
  • You study the first section of the module, then you try finishing the first tutorial, and you go along like this to revise the module. Finally, you study the past papers.
  • You take a look at the past papers and tutorials and try to finish them by referencing back to lecture notes. When knowing they're out of the way and you know how to do them again, then you go through your lecture notes, taking notes and revising thoroughly, learning anything you didn't learn from the past papers and tutorials.
For me the first method is always more convenient and more in my comfortable zone. However, the last method is my panic mode method when I have no time left and still loads to learn. 
The second method is the method I think is the best but I just don't like it very much.

5. Prioritise and assign time blocks

6. Stick to the plan but be open to change! 

7. Plan Linearly, Be aware of your psychology, Learn Dynamically!
One big common mistake I used to make when planning my revision plan was that I used to plan everything in equal portions and trying to stick with it. You see, when it comes to making a revision plan, there are lots of factors to consider when you allocate your "to do" tasks per day.

Factors like, the difficulty of a module lecture, your energy levels, your environment, distraction levels. etc.
You need to think all about these when planning your revision plan. Plan linearly, plan like non of these factors matter and that you can study let's say 10 lecture notes and 2 tutorials per day. But, then put "BUFFER" time, just in case, one day you didn't manage to reach your daily goals. Maybe your energy levels weren't high or just you needed a break on that day.

Be aware of your psychology, you can't power learn for days consecutively! That's just not possible.

8. Quality Vs Quanity
It's about how study it not how many times you study it. Quality is much better than quantity.
If you study something very thoroughly and spend some time totally digesting the content, it will work out for you much better than revising it back and forth but doing it very fast. Sometimes one revision round would be enough if you spend some quality time in that one revision round. Every time you want revise something, revise like you have exams for that module the next day. Don't tell yourself you have time and you will revise again near exams. YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME! This is how you should think when doing a power study through a module. You should study each lecture note like they're going to be asked in an exam the next day.

9. Be aware of times of the day that your brain is on your side.
For me this is around 9am-2pm and 3-7pm.

From 9pm onwards, my brain wants me to catchup with that the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
I find myself spending two hours checking my Facebook and 5 minutes finishing the final tutorial question after 9pm. So, What I do? I just go home and just stop studying after 9pm onwards because I know my brain can't just do it anymore. It has absorbed as much information as it could.

Good Luck!

1 comment:

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