It’s that dreaded time of year again, that time of year that seems to just creep up on you out of the blue. You think back to the first term when you were blowing off homework or leaving coursework till the last minute saying to yourself ‘exams are still ages away’. As always that ‘ages away’ came around the bend a lot faster than you anticipated. You soon begin to realise that there is not enough time to make up for your lapse in judgment. At this point, don’t you feel that you just want to give up…willingly walk in to the abyss of unproductiveness…admit defeat – all of which will inevitably lead you to an undesirable academic judgment day on which you are destined to be found guilty.
If you have goosebumps after reading the intro, then do not be alarmed as you are not alone. If you are feeling guilty, stop that as well! The guilt and regret of not starting revision earlier hinders starting revision at all. Remember procrastination is in the nature of human beings, just learn how to master it and insha’Allah next year hit the ground running.
By now you must know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t then alhamdulillah you are probably not one of those students that need my advice right now maa sha Allah. However for the sake of those who do, I am talking about exams!
Down to business
All right, enough small talk. You have not failed yet. There are ways in which to get last minute revision and independent study done where you can not only pass but come out with a more than decent grade as well insha’Allah.
It’s all down to my one golden rule of revision: discussion! That’s right, I want you to talk, and talk endlessly about the work, the material, the topics. While you do need to do some pen to paper studying to learn the material, I am not a in favour of staying in the library or locked in your room all the time. Why? Because in most cases what you are doing is just memorising facts, and in the exam you just regurgitate what you have been taught in lessons; when you discuss, it provides the platform for you to think critically and draw connections. In addition to the examiners wanting you to tell them what they already know, they want you to criticise, discuss, analyse, evaluate, demonstrating you have an in-depth understanding of the subject.
How to Discuss Properly
As you can imagine, your plan to ‘discuss’ can quickly spiral into an irrelevant chatting session, so here are some instructions on how to discuss with the intention of revision:
- Prepare material for the topic of revision
- Read it and take notes on key issues that will be in the exam, usually teachers/lectures provide a revision check list
- Get a partner who is doing the same subject and discuss, talk about the topic, debate over it
- Ask each other questions, pick sides-argue those sides and then swap over
- Have the materials in front of you this whole time as you can search for the answer or information as your discussing
This technique not only helps you to understand but memorise as well. What you can get done In 5-6 hours of independent revision in the library you can perhaps get done more effectively and efficiently through productive discussion. Believe it or not but 90% of my revision is done on the phone!
Key Tip #1
Its not about revising hard, but its about revising smart(ly)! It’s likely that throughout the year you have covered several topics on the subject you are studying. Chances are that you can pick which topic to answer before the exam. So carefully look over the topics and pick the ones you feel most comfortable answering. This way you do not have to go through an entire text book, but just tackle the meaty issues of concern.
Key Tip #2
Past papers are your friend! Prior to discussing the work, make sure you look at previous questions from up to 3 years ago. This way you can anticipate the gist of how the exam paper will be structured. Also after fully discussing and understanding the topic, you should definitely attempt questions from past papers for practise
Key Tip #3
Du’a: Do not forget or underestimate the power of du’a, my dear brothers and sisters. Firstly make du’a for others, as I’m sure you are aware of the hadith in which the Prophet (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated that when someone makes du’a for another, the angels say Ameen for the person who is making the du’a. Subhan Allah! I don’t know about you guys but I would love for angels to make dua for me so I pray for all of you Ameen.
Further make dua for yourself, this is a prayer that has been recommended to me by pretty much everyone, and it’s not just for exams but in general times of hardship as well:
‘Allahumma laa sahla illah maa ja’alahu sahlan wa Anta taj’alul-hazna idha shi’ta sahlan’
O Allah, there is no ease other than what you make easy, if you please you make the difficult ease.
So now get down to it! But first, I would like to request you all to please make du’a for me as I have exams as well. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please check out my Facebook page and I will be more than happy to help you out provided it is in my capacity to do so insha’Allah.
Go get those grades now! May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala make it easy for you and grant you all success in every beneficial endeavour, Ameen.
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