Exams are just around the corner for many students. Many of us have a number of panic attacks around this time of year, every year. The guilt of procrastination and piles of books that have yet to be read looms over us. Memories of ploughing through hours of dreary revision sessions are often hidden away somewhere in the back of our minds.
While we may lose confidence in our abilities and question if we can even go through with exams, it is important to remind ourselves of Allah’s words in Surat Al-Baqarah:
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity…” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 286]
Allah has given us this capacity, so we must use this knowledge to instill confidence in ourselves and go ahead with our revision. Sometimes, it is necessary to think about our previous study tactics to see how we can improve and start taking advantage of our abilities.
Revisit your study techniques
In my last five years at medical school, I have learnt to be versatile in my learning. I used to be a “read, make notes, and memorise” type of person. However, as you progress through academic life, you may find that you have more to learn and less time to read. Thus, to become more productive in studying, finding an efficient approach is necessary.
Also, without keeping the mind interested, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain fully focused. The more you enjoy the way you are revising, the more you are likely to remember the content you have covered.
Again this year, some exams will take place during Ramadan. Be keen to make the most of the month by being creative and productive with your revision, and trying alternative study strategies.
Here is a list of 6 tips to help you tackle this revision season:
1. Be an early bird
Revision has a tendency to cause sleeping patterns to go out of sync and nocturnal studying to commence. However, try your best to avoid this as it leads to an unhealthy sleeping pattern, which leads to no good.
It is narrated that the Prophet made dua for our ummah, saying:
“O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings (i.e., what they do early in the morning).” [Ibn Majah]
The mind is able to focus better on tasks in the morning, especially since social distractions are eliminated, as most people are still asleep. Also, a good night’s sleep is essential to maintain a healthy mind and body. So, before commencing studies, make it a habit to sleep well and wake early for Fajr.
2. Draw word maps
Start by placing a broad term in the middle of a piece of paper or whiteboard. Brainstorm everything you know about that topic. Once you are done, you will have a number of stems that branch from this central term.
Then repeat the process by placing one of these branches as your central focus and jotting down everything you know about that particular topic or phrase. Interlink different branches to help you link up different ideas within the same subject.
This is a particularly good way to summarise what you have learnt at the end of a day of revision.
3. Use sticky notes
Place sticky notes with words, questions, and phrases around your house where you will come across them. Leave them everywhere, from your laptop, to your bedside table, to your mirror. Then each time you come across one, answer the question or explain the written term.
This will allow you to recall information when you are least expecting to do so, allowing you to evaluate what you genuinely remember and what you still need to work on. Also, the more you recall, the more likely you are to remember what you have revised.
4. Organise a quiz night
Group revision can be a great way to relax and revise at the same time. Produce a set of questions and get into teams to compete against each other. Make it fun by having prizes for the winners, which could include chocolates or stationery if you like. Other games can also be played, such as pictogram, hangman, or your own crosswords. Make sure you keep it all linked to your exam topics and related content.
If there are concepts which one person is stronger in than others, it would be the perfect situation to get some explanations and clarifications for topics you haven’t yet mastered.
5. Text smart
It is true that the closer our exams get, the more we procrastinate. For many of us, we would rather talk to our friends and forget the mounting pile of books we have left to read.
You can have the best of both worlds, by making a pact with your friends to send a fact related to your subject with each text message being sent. This way you can keep your mind actively learning while outside of your revision sessions.
6. Answer 10 questions before bed
Make a set of question flashcards. Before going to bed, test yourself on 5-10 questions that should cover things you have not mastered yet. On the days that you have only managed to do little revision, this is a quick way to add some in before your day ends.
The same flashcards can be used during your commute or when you are waiting for your dinner to be made. The key is to continuously test yourself to get yourself comfortable with the concept of questions and answering them accurately.
I hope my tips are of help to all the students out there. Do not forget to continuously make dua for yourself and your peers. And if any one has any other study tips, please share them with us in the comments section!